Maternity & Midwifery Forum
Midwifery Feature Articles Uncategorised


By Amanda Burleigh


At the end of November the #Saynotobullyinginmidwifery anti bullying Facebook support group published a report/book containing accounts from the group members after being asked the question “Why do Midwives leave?” Amanda Burleigh, on behalf of the authors, shares the background to the project.


The #Saynotobullyinginmidwifery Facebook group was founded in April 2017 by Dany Griffiths and Amanda Burleigh due to the prevalence of bullying in maternity. Amanda had her own experiences of severe and chronic bullying after whistleblowing and attempting to change, non-evidence based and damaging practice of recommended immediate cord clamping to delayed cord clamping. The subsequent treatment eventually led to her leaving the profession. She set up the group as she knew she wasn’t the only maternity worker being bullied, failed or needing support. The #Saynotobullyinginmidwifery group grew quickly and today has over 4000 members. Members are encouraged to anonymously share their experiences within the closed group and support and advice from members is received.

In 2021 there was a drive by other individuals and groups to raise the profile of concerns about the midwifery profession and maternity in general.  Several reports have been published in recent years which clearly illustrate the devastation of unsafe maternity care. We know from report after report that maternity units are extremely understaffed and midwives and maternity workers leave due to feeling their working environments are beyond unsafe.  We knew that Midwives were leaving the profession in droves, but what were the real reasons for this to be happening?

In October 2021 The question “Why do Midwives leave? was asked within the #Saynotobullyinginmidwifery group and resulted in an absolute tsunami of reports arriving into the inbox. Hundreds of accounts from midwives, student midwives, maternity support workers, lecturers, heads of midwifery and others, who repeatedly described their experiences which left them damaged and broken, often with their lives and careers ruined. Many accounts also described that the systems that should have been in place to support them when they were faced with bullying behaviour, increasing workloads, short staffing, hierarchies, lack of safety, lack of compassion, racism, disregarding disabilities and poor training environments failed to do so. Numerous accounts shared in this book/report, also describe all areas of the “support systems” from CQC, CEO, HR, midwifery management, universities and the union played their part in being complicit, inadequate, uncaring, self-serving, disinterested and even corrupt. As well as staff not feeling valued, work environments described as unsafe, exit interviews not performed, recorded or acted upon, often staff who whistle-blew to highlight unsafe practice were demonised until they left. This meant health and safety issues and evidence base practice was ignored, with no lessons learned and no voices listened to.

After the accounts were received they were all anonymised and measures were taken to ensure that the individuals could not be identified. The accounts were individually,and also in their entirety, so devastating that the promise was made to ensure that the voices of these brave members would be heard. The accounts were then separated into main themes and passionate midwifery volunteers were sought, a team was formed and over the next two years we all worked together to produce and publish the finished book/report #Saynotobullyinginmidwifery that was published on 23/11/23. The report was widely disseminated in both PDF and hard copy format to all directors and heads of Midwifery, CQC, NMC, RCM, RCOG, every university lead, integrated care boards, members of parliament, including thirty significant members who received a hard copy into their letterboxes at the houses of parliament. Hundreds of PDF’s were sent out by email and a link where people could download the pdf provided. The book/report was published on Amazon and is available in EBook or paperback. The book/report is an altruistic production and has been supported by sponsors ARM (Association of Midwifery) TIMBET (The Independent Midwifery Birth and Education Trust) and an individual benefactor.

Some may be surprised that we haven’t included a “solutions” chapter, but although we had solutions as suggested by the members, the situation is so dire that it needs involvement from all stake holders who can use the report to inform and then for everybody to work together to provide real solutions, because that is what is needed. Any solutions to this crisis in maternity care needs an urgent multi-faceted approach where the focus is on doing and not just talking. The safety of mothers, babies, families and midwives depends on it. We hope this report can contribute towards helping others to understand what it is like currently to be a midwife, student or support worker in maternity services and to help those who have the power to activate change and improvement.

Above all the #Saynotobullyinginmidwifery report demonstrates that, despite leaving roles that they love, many midwifery and maternity employees remain incredibly passionate about midwifery, maternity, mothers, babies, families and their colleagues and want the system to do better and be safer for all concerned. Many of the accounts in this book/report are from midwives who have reluctantly left the profession and many others are contemplating leaving.

Links for the book/report are:

Paperback/Kindle (Amazon) £10/£6

PDF (ARM) (free download but donations very welcome)

Amanda Burleigh on behalf of the author team

December 2023