Midwives are missing meals and delaying going to the toilet because they do not have enough time for breaks, according to a new survey.
The survey by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) found they are also working additional unpaid hours, on top of long shifts, with more than one in five working at least five extra hours each week for no pay.
According to the survey, 87% of respondents admitted delaying going to the toilet because they don’t have enough time.
And more than three quarters (77%) said they had skipped meals, including over a quarter who do so always or most of the time.
And around half (52%) said they felt dehydrated most or all of the time at work because they don’t have enough time to get a drink.
‘Midwives are putting their own health and wellbeing on the line to ensure that women and babies get the care they need – but it shouldn’t be either/or,’ said RCM employment relations advisor, Alice Sorby.
‘The NHS should be doing all it can to promote staff retention and by support our members health in the workplace so they can deliver the very best care to women and their babies.
‘The physical and mental health of midwives, maternity support workers and all NHS staff has never been more important, but sadly what the results of our member survey have revealed is there has been little improvement over the past four years. COVID-19 has undoubtedly increased the pressure on midwives, some of whom have been working additional hours unpaid just to keep maternity services open and running.’
Labour’s shadow health minister, Justin Madders said: ‘This is deeply concerning and shows not only how our amazing midwives go above and beyond every single day but also how they are being let down by a government that has simply failed to deal with the chronic workforce shortages in the NHS.
‘We are short of 2,500 midwives in the NHS in England which, against an overall staffing shortfall of over 100,000, is forcing staff to do more and more and putting them under ever increasing strain.
‘The government needs to come up with a credible staffing plan otherwise we risk losing many of these dedicated people to burnout,’ added Mr Madders.
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