Midwives will go on strike for the first time as part of concerted industrial action by NHS staff over the Government’s rejection of a recommended one per cent pay rise.
They will walk out for four hours between 7 am and 11 am on 13 October alongside members of other unions representing NHS staff.
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is staging the first walkout in its 133-year history after members in England voted by a margin of more than four to one to strike.
At 23 weeks pregnant with my third child I am not a happy woman – call me selfish if you wish, but I don’t fancy ‘going native’ and delivering the child without any help.
RCM chief executive, Cathy Warwick, stressed that women and babies who needed midwives during the stoppage would still get help and their safety would not be at risk. Well that is something, but not really very reassuring.
Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary (number of babies delivered – 0), has overruled the pay review body’s advice from last year that staff should receive a one per cent rise. He maintains that it is unaffordable for a service struggling to provide high-quality services amid unprecedented demand.
This is stark contrast to the pay rise MPs will receive next year. Their pay will rise by 10 per cent, taking their salaries to £74,000. Marcial Boo, the chief executive of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) recommended the pay rise, despite MPs desperate attempts – desperate I am sure – to stop it. Of course, as a minister Mr Hunt receives considerably more.
Now I know what you are going to say – this is just comparing apples and pears. I don’t care – I don’t care, do you hear? Pay the midwives whatever they damn well want. They have the drugs, and the ability to help mothers deliver new life. Shall I say that again – the ability and skill to help mothers deliver new life? So pay them you nitwits.
Now, I know there are some bad midwife stories out there but these are by far the minority. An excellent midwife keeps the cost of delivering new life (new life remember) to the NHS down. Without excellent midwife care, labours become complex and then the consultant is involved , with perhaps the birth ending in a C-section. This puts the cost of delivering a child into the thousands. This is what is called a false economy. So do not annoy the midwives.
Here are a list of things you could cut back on to make up the pay – the silly free school meals at a cost of £1 billion a year, the childcare subsidy also at a cost of £1 billion a year, or the MPs’ pay rise. The £30 million Cameron pledged to spend on ‘relationship support’ over the next 4 years is also money down the drain.
Midwives, loyal reader, make up a rare group of people that make miracles happen. Three people enter a room and many hours later the head count increases by one. Much of this is down to the midwife. And this is the happy ending. Remember many midwives will also deal with devastated parents who might lose a child to stillbirth or have to assist a mother after a very traumatic birth.
These women often put in 12-hour shifts in their pursuit of miracle making. Give them their one per cent rise for goodness sake.