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Midwife numbers struggling to keep up with rising birth rate

15 January 2010

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A report has warned there are fewer midwives to cope with Britain’s increasing birth rate.

Supervision, Support and Safety: An Analysis Of The 2008 To 2009 Local Supervising Authorities’ Annual Reports To The NMC, by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), found there was a shortage of midwives in many parts of the country that had seen a rising number of births.

In light of the findings, the NMC is urging health authorities to act on the concerns raised.

The report found a rising number of complex births. It also found that potential challenges, including substance abuse and obesity, were placing a strain on existing midwifery services.

NMC chief executive and registrar Professor Dickon Weir-Hughes said: “The NMC urges maternity service providers, related health authorities and the UK health departments to monitor the situation and act swiftly if LSAs raise concerns about the quality of care provided to mothers and babies.”

Commenting on NMC report’s findings, Cathy Warwick, general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “It is encouraging that supervisors of midwives to midwife ratios have improved in some areas. I would want to see concerted action to meet the recommended ratio in areas that are falling short.”

The Department of Health said funding for maternity services had almost doubled since 1997 to just under £2bn.

A DH spokesperson said: “We have set a goal to recruit an extra 4,000 midwives by 2012 and the NHS has already exceeded an interim target to recruit 1,000 by September this year, which shows the high priority being given to maternity services.”

Copyright © Press Association 2010

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