Midwives are set to go on strike for the first time – but pregnant women and babies will still get the help they need
The strike, initiated by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), will begin on 13 October, with midwives planning to walk about between 7am and 11am. It’s going ahead after health secretary Jeremy Hunt went against the pay review body’s advice that staff should receive a 1 per cent pay rise.
It’s the first time in the RCM’s 133 year history that a walkout has been organised, arranged after four to one midwives voted in favour of the strike. Out of the almost 50 per cent who turned out to vote 82 per cent voted yes to striking with 18 per cent against it.
Pregnant women, new mums and babies who need midwives during the strike will still get the help they need
READ: THE MIDWIFE STRIKE – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
‘This is a resounding yes from our members,’ says RCM chief executive Cathy Warwick. ‘It could not send a clearer signal about the level of discontent on this issue to those denying them a very modest 1% pay increase.’
But the RCM insists that pregnant women, new mums and babies who need midwives during the strike will still get the help they need.
‘The RCM will be meeting with employers to discuss our action and to ensure that mothers and babies are not put at any risk,’ says Cathy. ‘I want to reassure women expecting a baby that midwives will continue to look after them and that they will be safe.’
READ: ARE NEW MUMS SENT HOME FROM HOSPITAL TOO SOON AFTER GIVING BIRTH?
While the strike might lead to operations being cancelled, the Department of Health plans to hire temporary staff to fill gaps in rotas.
A spokeswoman defended the health secretary’s decision, saying that the NHS can’t afford the pay increase. ‘NHS staff are our greatest asset, and we’ve increased the NHS budget to pay for thousands more clinical staff since 2010, including more than 1,700 more midwives since May 2010.
READ: 12 HOME BIRTH ESSENTIALS FOR A BETTER LABOUR
‘We want to protect these increases and cannot afford a pay rise on top of increments – which disproportionately reward the highest earners – without risking frontline jobs.’
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