An editorial on Brexit has been a long time coming. This is not because discussing it would be irrelevant—quite the opposite. Professional bodies such as the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) (2018) have released numerous statements warning of the effect that Britain's exit from the EU will have on staffing, skill mix and safe care. In fact, the main reason why Brexit has been discussed so little in this column is because it is raises more questions than it answers. It is infuriating: Brexit has taken up permanent residence in the news and in Government business since before the 2016 referendum, and yet nothing has been decided. The lack of consensus on when, how or even if the UK will leave the EU has precluded our ability to plan for the eventual outcome, and while the Government plays its own game of ‘Deal or No Deal’, schools, the environment and health services have been sidelined.
The NHS and professional organisations have made repeated calls for more staff and resources, and while these have been somewhat mitigated by the NHS (2019) Long Term Plan, it is not known what effect Brexit will have, or whether the Plan will fix decades of inequalities (Newman, 2019).
In many instances where there is a lack of education, awareness or resources, charities have emerged to fill the gap. Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, organises training events and courses for health professionals on bereavement care, while Baby Lifeline provides maternity units with equipment, often running to tens of thousands of pounds (Baby Lifeline, 2019a). These are just two of hundreds of charities dedicated to raising awareness of a range of issues that can affect women, babies and families. Their work is admirable and necessary, but what does it say about the status of the NHS when Trusts have to rely on donations from the public to buy equipment as basic as chairs and weighing scales (Baby Lifeline, 2019b)?
In a time when the Government is focused on one issue alone, charities play an essential role, providing information and support to service users, and training and equipment to health professionals. In light of this, BJM would like to recognise the huge range of organisations related to pregnancy, birth and beyond in a new column, Charity Spotlight, which begins this month. This aims to allow charities to raise awareness of their campaigns, to provide midwives with links to which they can signpost women and families, and to give everyone a break from the bad news cycle.