NHS to invest millions to keep experienced midwives as mentors for next generation

Midwives with years of service will be encouraged to support the next generation of maternity staff, the NHS announced today.

The £8 million scheme could see experienced midwifery professionals act as mentors for new or returning midwives, with newly created positions across maternity units nationwide, England’s Chief Midwife said today.

These new positions would see 2,734 midwives who have joined the workforce in the last year benefit from the skills of longstanding staff and their knowledge from years of hands-on experience.

Extra coaching, support and development would also be provided to the new staff as they support families through the experience of pregnancy and childbirth.

In a letter sent to maternity units across the country today, England’s top midwife, Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, encouraged bids for the new funding that will strengthen the workforce to benefit women, their babies and their families.

The funding is the latest package of support for maternity services in England, following additional investment of £95million to boost maternity workforce numbers over the last year with 1,200 new roles, alongside more training, development and leadership programmes.

Investment to bolster the maternity workforce in England will support the NHS Long Term Plan ambition of accelerating action to achieve 50% reductions in stillbirth, maternal mortality, neonatal mortality and serious brain injury by 2025.

England’s Chief Midwifery Officer, Professor Dunkley-Bent OBE, said: “We have an invaluable resource in our existing experienced workforce, who have between them over the years supported millions of families to care for women antenatally, assisted with the safe delivery of their babies, and cared for them postnatally.

“We want to keep this wealth of on-the-job knowledge by creating new positions that give maternity staff the opportunity to stay within the NHS and help support and train the next generation of midwives.

“Not only will this help ensure that we keep their incredible breadth of skills and experience within the system, but they can become a much-needed source of advice, guidance and emotional support for new staff members – providing essential coaching or care through the start of their careers, alongside professional midwifery advocates and ambassadors.”

Prof. Mark Radford CBE, Chief Nurse HEE and Deputy Chief Nursing Officer, said: “It’s essential that we retain the fantastic knowledge that our experienced staff have built up through years of service. This funding will help with that, as well as help support those who are newest to our workforce.

“By sharing knowledge, providing pastoral support and coaching new staff, our expert workforce will help guarantee safe and effective care for women, families and their babies for years to come.”

Retaining NHS staff is critical to the recovery of routine care and the NHS has included workforce retention schemes as part of its elective recovery plan. The Retention Programme ensures Trusts have the means to create workplace initiatives focussed on improving flexible working, workplace culture, health and wellbeing, and supporting staff at the start and end of their careers when they most need it. There are also schemes in place to support staff to look after their mental and physical health and wellbeing through 40 mental health hubs and free access to a range of self-help apps and helplines.

Bids for the funding must be received before 5pm on Friday 25 March 2022.