Care Pathways

24.09.19

‘Worrying’ statistics shows half of student midwives consider leaving training for financial reasons

A survey carried out by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has found that half of student midwives have considered leaving their midwifery courses due to financial pressures and debt.

The survey, published today, was exclusively for student midwife members, running from May to June 2019. Nearly 1,200 students responded to the survey from across England, Wales Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Questions included if they were receiving financial support, what their living situations were and if they had considered leaving their courses.

The survey also discussed the levels of debt accrued to obtain a career in midwifery and the impact of the student midwife bursary being scrapped in England.

Other findings revealed that £41,000 is the average amount of debt a student midwife can expect to graduate with, but some reach £100,000 before getting their qualification.

Almost 95% of student midwives in England commented that the bursary they receive doesn’t even cover basic living costs. In fact, the study found that on average they were £409 short of their bills each month.

The lack of funding has meant that a student midwife is taking an average of £562 from their family and friends to help cover their monthly living costs.

The situation was even harder for those with dependents. Over 50% of applications for a childcare grant are rejected and over one third of midwives with caring responsibilities are getting no financial support.

Today (24th September) will see the RCM’s two-day Annual Conference get underway in Manchester but the future of the profession has been described by themselves as ‘worrying’.

In her opening speech, chief executive, Gill Walton addressed 3,000 midwives, student midwives and maternity support workers, stating: “It should frankly shame the Government in England who have effectively left students facing thousands of pounds worth of debt when they qualify.”

The bleak figures emerging from the survey come after the government removed the NHS bursary in August 2017, which resulted in a huge shortfall of student midwife applications.

Gill Walton, general secretary and chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives said: “To burden student midwives with large amounts of debt that they will struggle to pay with a modest NHS salary is unjust and frankly just wrong.

“We should be doing all we can to make working in the NHS as attractive as possible, but the current system and the removal of the bursary is making student midwives think about leaving before they have even begun their midwifery careers.”

“Furthermore, it’s deterring potentially great students from considering a career in midwifery. This is particularly worrying given the large shortage of midwives in England and sits at odds with the Government’s commitment to bring 3,000 more midwives into the NHS.”

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