The Royal College of Midwives announced today that it is throwing its support behind a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal.
They join the Royal College of Nursing, Prospect and the TSSA as trade unions who have voted to support a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal.
Explaining the decision, the Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives, Gill Walton, writes that:
“The economic impact of Brexit, which even the Government predicts will be bad, will hit the country’s ability to fund improvements in healthcare and to train and recruit more NHS staff...that was not what was promised ahead of the referendum.
“Two years ago, the referendum result was a narrow win for Leave.
“The Government has followed through on that and is negotiating an exit from the European Union. But those talks are floundering, the deal is set to look nothing like what was promised, and the damaging impact of Brexit is becoming more and more apparent.
“This will be far too big a decision to be left to the politicians alone.
“We, the people, must decide in a people’s vote on the final Brexit deal.”
Commenting, Angela Smith MP, leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, said:
“The news that the Royal College of Midwives have joined the Royal College of Nursing, Prospect and the TSSA in voting to support a People’s Vote is hugely significant – these unions know first-hand what the consequences of the Brexit deal being negotiated will be for their members and for the NHS, and they want the people to have a say.
“The promises about Brexit and the NHS that were splashed across the side of a bus during the 2016 referendum are not being fulfilled. Instead, growing numbers of EU nurses, doctors and midwives are leaving the health service, with lower numbers arriving to replace them.
“With new facts about Brexit coming to light all the time, and with more and more people and organisations getting behind a People’s Vote, it’s becoming clearer all the time that Brexit is too big a deal to be decided by Parliament alone. The 65 million people of this country must have their voices heard as well.”
Notes to editors
The full piece written by Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives, is below:
It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
Cast your mind back two years to the referendum on UK membership of the European Union.
Do you remember the Vote Leave campaign ad about an old lady going for NHS treatment? It was split-screen, one half showing the NHS after we left Europe, the other showing our health service if we voted to stay.
The Brexit future was sparkly and shiny, waiting rooms were quieter and she was seen by a smiling doctor in no time at all.
The EU future was gloomy, full of coughing, sneezing patients, where she waited and waited and waited to be seen.
That is not how it is turning out.
As the chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, a former director of midwifery at a NHS trust, and a midwife, maternity care is what I know about, so let’s look at the impact of Brexit there.
In the last 12 months, just 33 midwives arrived in the UK from elsewhere in Europe. We used to welcome hundreds every year.
Meanwhile, the number leaving our shores has shot up and we have 201 fewer than a year ago. At that rate, there will be none left around ten years from now.
This loss inescapably that means the maternity care we can offer all women suffers, and the pressure on all maternity staff gets worse: the very opposite to what was promised to voters back in 2016.
And it is not just midwives.
There are around 10,000 hospital doctors and 20,000 nurses from elsewhere in the EU in the English NHS: add in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and it will be far more.
Many are leaving and fewer are arriving because Brexit makes them feel unwelcome and will give them much less security over their right to be here.
That campaign ad got it upside down.
It is the Brexit future that will leave us, waiting and waiting and waiting to be seen.
The economic impact of Brexit, which even the Government predicts will be bad, will hit the country’s ability to fund improvements in healthcare and to train and recruit more NHS staff.
Again, that was not what was promised ahead of the referendum.
There are other problems coming too.
For instance, rules about what people in certain professions, including midwifery, need to know are set at the European level.
This means a midwife trained in Berlin or Gothenburg will meet the standards expected of one who trains in Belfast or Gateshead.
If we are unplugged from this system we will be less able to recruit the midwives we need.
We can train more of our own, of course, but that will take even more money away from the NHS and will take time that we do not have.
Two years ago, the referendum result was a narrow win for Leave.
The Government has followed through on that and is negotiating an exit from the European Union. But those talks are floundering, the deal is set to look nothing like what was promised, and the damaging impact of Brexit is becoming more and more apparent.
When that final deal is struck, someone will have to decide whether or not it is good enough, whether it honours the promises made to the electorate two years ago.
It is my belief that that decision should not rest with a few hundred people in Westminster, but with the tens of millions of British voters whose lives will be changed forever by it.
This will be far too big a decision to be left to the politicians alone.
We, the people, must decide in a people’s vote on the final Brexit deal.
Gill Walton is a midwife and Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives