'March with Midwives' vigil to be held in Leeds

A vigil will be held in Leeds this weekend calling on the Government to take “urgent action” to protect midwives, women, babies and families.

Wednesday, 17th November 2021, 11:45 am
A recent survey by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) union which found 57 per cent midwives are looking to leave. Picture: PA

The #Marchwithmidwives event will take place at Leeds Town Hall on Sunday November 21 at 2pm.

It is part of a grassroots movement calling for change in maternity services in the UK, with vigils taking place across the country aiming to bring attention to the cause.

It follows a recent survey by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) union which found 57 per cent midwives are looking to leave.

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The RCM has had no involvement in organising this weekend's protests but Jon Skewes, its executive director for external relations, told the Yorkshire Evening Post they were "grateful" to the movement for highlighting the "untenable situation".

He said: “For years, maternity services have been operating with too few staff and inadequate resources.

“NHS Trusts and Boards have relied on the goodwill of staff, and their genuine love of what they do, to maintain services – but staff are reaching the end of their tether.

“Last month, we published a survey that showed that 57 per cent of midwives are looking to leave – and the biggest group among them are those who have only been working for five years or less.

“The UK and national governments have to do more, not only to train and recruit new midwives into the NHS, but to retain the ones we have.

“Staff are frankly exhausted, many feel like they have nothing left to give – and services are suffering as a result.

“We’re grateful to March with Midwives for highlighting the work we have been doing to get politicians and policy makers to pay attention to this untenable situation.”

A spokeswoman for the Leeds #MarchwithMidwives event said the vigil is open to “midwives, ex-midwives, independent midwives, service users, family, friends, anyone who wants to support this movement”.

She added: “The message needs to be heard loud and clear to make the government take urgent action to protect midwives, women, babies and families.”

A Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Midwives do an incredibly important job and we know how challenging it has been working through the pandemic.

"There are more midwives working across the NHS now than at any other time in its history and we are aiming to hire 1,200 more with a £95 million recruitment drive.

“Supporting the mental health and wellbeing of staff remains a key priority and the NHS continues to offer a broad range of health and wellbeing support including via mental health and wellbeing hubs.”

Follow #MarchwithMidwives on social media via Twitter @midwivesmarch; on Facebook @March With Midwives UK and on Instagram @marchwithmidwives.

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