The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) said existing shortages had worsened during the pandemic. The trade union has also warned that “Plummeting” midwife numbers risk the health of staff, mothers and babies. They have called for more investment in maternity services to ensure the safety and quality of care.
Executive director of the RCM Dr Suzanne Tyler, said midwives and maternity support workers were “buckling with the sheer weight of demands on them”. The government has however said that supporting staff wellbeing was a “priority”.
According to Dr Tyler, services were remaining safe only because of the sheer effort and dedication of maternity staff.
She said: “The service is crumbling before our eyes and the government cannot and must not ignore it.”
The RCM released figures of departure saying that about 600 midwives had left over the past year which adds to an “an existing and longstanding shortage” of more than 2,000.
Departures between April 2021 and April 2020:
- North East and Yorkshire – down 194, from 4,184 to 3,990
- North-West – down 122, from 3,701 to 3,579
- South-East – down 114, from 3,857 to 3,743
- London – down 111, from 4,957 to 4,846
- Midlands – down 64, from 5,033 to 4,969
- South-West – down 45, from 2,499 to 2,454
- East of England – down 14, from 2,800 to 2,786
The RCM conducted a survey last year and said results from the survey showed % of midwives were thinking of leaving the NHS. The reasons for this were majorly concerns about the safety and quality of care they were giving
The union also said that in a separate poll of NHS staff in June, pay was also a major factor in staff loss.
A separate poll of NHS staff in June showed pay was also a major factor in staff loss, the union said.
Dr Tyler said “The falls across the regions are compounding the difficulties employers are facing to recruit and keep their midwives. An “insulting” pay offer and “simmering and palpable discontent” is pushing staff out of the NHS”
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Social Care said staff could receive “rapid access to mental health services”.
She also added that the government was looking to hire 1,200 more midwives and 100 consultant obstetricians as part of a “£95m recruitment drive” on top of a £127m “investment in maternity services over the next year to help increase the maternity NHS workforce and improve neonatal care”.
She went further to say that NHS England has also been tasked with developing a “long-term workforce strategy to help provide certainty for the future.”
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