If the number of NHS midwives in England had increased at a comparable rate as the overall healthcare workforce since the last general election, there would not be a shortage in the specialty, says the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).
The findings come from the organisation’s new report into the state of maternity services, which further found there would be 3,100 more midwives as opposed to the 2,500 shortfall if recruitment had matched other parts of the workforce.
More complex needs, such as spiking levels of obesity in pregnancy and a jump in the number of older women having babies, mean maternity services are asked to do more according to the report.
The royal college goes on to highlight the need for a renewed focus retention, citing the lack of impact more student midwives is having due to many experienced members of staff also leaving.
The organisation highlights expanded flexible working schemes, improved development opportunities and combatting poor workplace cultures all as ways the NHS can improve retention for midwives.
“The Government has promised much with the plan and we will be watching to make sure they honour those promises,” said the RCM’s executive director midwife, Birte Harlev-Lam, on the recently published NHS long term workforce plan.
“Working partnership – the profession and policy-makers – we can make things better.”
The new report follows shortly after the RCM released survey findings last month which indicated that midwives work 100,000 for free each week on the NHS to make sure women are safe.
Harlev-Lam continued: “Women and maternity staff deserve nothing less than total commitment from the Government to once and for all end this crisis. This means giving maternity services the resources needed now, and long into the future.”
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