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Royal College of Nursing Representing nurses and nursing, promoting excellence in practice, shaping health policies

Our work

The RCN is currently involved in the following midwifery related projects.

Ongoing project – Nurses and Health Care Assistants in maternity services (Midwifery Forum) – to be published in 2019

Across the UK, the majority of maternity units are primarily staffed with midwives who deliver midwifery care to mother and babies. However increasingly complex needs of many pregnant women has led to an increased need of nursing care for many of these women. This has led to the employment of nurses in maternity unit settings. In some units, registered nurses are employed to provide nursing care to pregnant and postnatal women. This may be in the capacity of High Dependency care, post-operative care (post caesarean section) care or elements of postnatal care. 

Currently there are no publicly accessible national figures for the number of nurses employed in maternity care. A recommendation of the King’s Fund report (2011) on staffing in maternity units was to increase the number of nurses working in maternity units. While this may be a useful way forward there is no way of ascertaining the level of nurses’ knowledge about the very specific care and support needs of childbearing women. In addition to this, service staffing pressures and skill mix changes have led to rising numbers of health care assistants (HCAs) working in maternity care. There appears to be no robust data on the number of HCAs working in maternity services, or their training, education and development within their roles. 

The forum believes that these sections of the health care workforce may be under represented in terms of recognition of specific needs they may have around training and continuing professional development.

Scoping Exercise to ascertain concerns around the current status of nurses and health care assistants working in maternity services, in particular access to service-specific education and training, and continuing professional development (CPD).

Page last updated - 17/10/2018