A new report from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is being published on 23 November which details the pressures on maternity services facing rising demands, midwife shortages and an ageing midwifery workforce.
Belinda Phipps, Chief Executive of NCT, the UK’s largest charity for parents, said:
“NCT supports the RCM’s call for more midwives overall and in particular its analysis showing that expanded home birth and midwife-led unit services would take the pressure off over-stretched hospital staffs and reduce the level of interventions for healthy women.
“To bring about the sort of change that would make best use of midwives and improve retention of newly qualified midwives, NCT’s recommendations include, having maternity network providers with strong and appropriate governance systems, revised funding and insurance schemes, enabling the voluntary sector to provide more support to midwives, improved multi-disciplinary training and leadership and greater involvement of users’ views.
“This report shows that the midwifery workforce across the UK is struggling to cope with the numbers and complexity of births but there are different aspects of need in different areas, with some regions needing more student midwives in training and other areas where former midwives returning to practice would be helpful.
“In all countries there has been a steep rise in birth numbers over the past decade, and in all countries the numbers of women over 40 giving birth has also substantially increased. The greater likelihood of older women experiencing complications during pregnancy and birth means that additional midwifery time is needed to provide appropriate care and help these women achieve a healthy birth with the minimal intervention that most of them seek.
“Births to women and girls under 20 have reduced, especially in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, which is generally good news as very young parents often need extra help and support from midwives to ensure they access the best care for them and their babies.
“This report is a welcome document as it clearly analyses the situation in the four UK countries, and shows where specific actions are needed to address the shortfall in midwifery staffing.”