Student midwives win maternity case against NHS

Three student midwives who were denied their bursary income during their maternity leave have won their case against the NHS at an Employment Appeal Tribunal.

The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), which supported the case, said the decision has secured new rights for the many thousands of women on the NHS Bursary Scheme including other midwives and many other health service trainees.

Those who are registered for the bursary are unable to claim other benefits such as Maternity Allowance or Income Support and are therefore denied any means of income during maternity leave.

The students, Clare Fletcher, Shelley Wilkinson, and Tracey Parkes received non-means tested bursaries to fund their midwifery training under the NHS Bursary Scheme.

However, Fletcher and Wilkinson had their bursary payments stopped when they took maternity leave from their studies, while Parkes continued with her studies during what should have been a period of maternity leave, because the Department of Health’s bursary scheme did not allow them to be paid during any maternity leave.

Julie Mellor, chair of the EOC, said student midwives, who provide a vital service for mothers and their babies, should be entitled to the same maternity rights as other mothers.

“The NHS has a shortage of midwives and cannot afford to lose new staff by discriminating against its own students,” she said.

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