Supporting our workforce

Supporting our workforce to develop their skills and capacity to provide high quality care

Despite increases in midwifery and obstetric staff numbers, NHS maternity and neonatal services do not currently have the number of midwives, neonatal nurses, doctors, and other health professionals they need. This means the workload is spread among too few hardworking professionals. We need to change that.

The three areas of action for maternity and neonatal staffing are:

  1. Continuing to grow our workforce
  2. Valuing and retaining our workforce
  3. Investing in skills.

The maternity and neonatal workforce includes a wide range of professions, including midwives, maternity support workers, obstetricians, anaesthetists, neonatologists, neonatal nurses, sonographers, allied health professionals, and psychologists. Growing our workforce involves interventions tailored to professional groups, career stage, and local requirements.

Our maternity and neonatal staff perform critical, life-changing work every day. We must ensure they are valued, with a fulfilling and sustainable career within the NHS. A growing number of staff leaving are now aged under 55, including for reasons other than retirement. Some staff groups, including Black, Asian, and ethnic minority staff are more likely to report negative experiences of working in NHS maternity and neonatal services. We need to do more to improve the experience of all our staff, to retain them within the NHS.

Staff feel valued when they are supported to develop. We are investing in our staff by ensuring they have ongoing training and career development opportunities. Effective training of frontline clinicians in technical and non-technical skills has been shown to improve outcomes, yet unwarranted variation in training and competency assessment currently exists, especially for temporary staff.


Our objectives

  • Grow our workforce: sufficient staffing levels across the whole maternity and neonatal team.
  • Value and retain our workforce: service users are involved in planning and designing services and in quality governance through Maternity Voice Partnerships (MVP).
  • Invest in skills: skills are invested in, competency is assured, and staff have development opportunities.

Our goals

Description of goal Where are we now? What are we aiming for? When will we get there?
To improve the accuracy of maternity and neonatal Provider Workforce Return (PWR). A PWR report is submitted on quarterly basis to the LMNS from the NE&Y regional team. However, individual Provider Trusts report the data is incorrect. Accurate PWR data to inform future workforce planning. 31 March 2024
That there is MVP representation on both the NENC LMNS Workforce and Quality and Safety Sub-Groups and that they are actively involved in the learning and development of these groups. MVP appointments to sub-groups have been confirmed. To ensure women’s and families views are represented within the work of the sub-groups and learning is shared. 31 March 2024
To improve the quality of the Provider Trusts Maternity Support Workers (MSW) Training Plans. All 8 Provider Trusts have a MSW Training Plan in place. However, only 3 meet the required quality standard. 100% of NENC MSW Training Plans meet the required quality standard. 31 March 2024


  • Agree staffing levels with trusts for professions not covered by a national standardised tool.
  • Align commissioning of service improvements and the care models outlined with workforce capacity.
  • Work with trusts to coordinate student placement capacity.