Royal College of Midwives
The Royal College of Midwives is a British midwives organisation founded in 1881 which has existed under its present name since 1947, and is the United Kingdom's only trade union or professional organisation for midwives and those that support them. Professor Cathy Warwick is the current Chief Executive.
The precursor of the College was Matron's Aid, otherwise known as the Trained Midwives Registration Society, set up in London in 1881 by Zepherina Veitch and some of her colleagues. Its aim was to "raise the efficiency and improve the status of midwives and to petition parliament for their recognition". Shortly afterwards its name was changed to the Midwives' Institute and there followed a period of about twenty years of campaigning before the government was persuaded to regulate the profession. The Midwives' Act was passed in 1902 and after that it was illegal for any unqualified person in England or Wales to act as a midwife. Similar legislation was implemented in Scotland in 1915 and in Northern Ireland in 1922.
The training of midwives was done by the Central Midwives' Board. Lectures were given and a journal was produced. The fees charged by midwives were low and if a doctor was needed to assist at the birth, further fees were required by him. By 1901 the Institute had established a scheme for providing insurance for midwives who were forced to be in quarantine after attending a case of puerperal fever, had to defend themselves at inquests or pay fees to doctors. By 1919, local authorities were required to pay the doctor's fee and then recoup the sum back from the family. The Institute continued to campaign and in 1936, the Midwives' Act was passed. This encouraged training, introduced a diploma for those who passed an examination and instituted five-yearly refresher courses. The Institute undertook a study into why the maternal death rate was so high. In 1941, it changed its name to the College of Midwives and in 1947, it was given a royal charter by King George VI.
The Royal College of Midwives has a Board consisting of qualified midwives which governs and manages the organisation. It also has a charitable organisation, the RCM Trust, which funds research, provides information to the public, provides education and training to its members and organises meetings, conferences and other events. The RCM Trust has a trading arm and runs a benevolent fund to assist members in need of financial assistance.
The Royal College of Midwives staged its first ever strike on 13 October 2014 in protest against the decision that only NHS staff at the top of their pay band would receive a 1% pay increase, while the remaining 55% of the workforce would only get annual incremental rises.