Critical point for maternity services26th November 2009
A midwives’ leader has warned that maternity services are at a critical point in England.
Professor Cathy Warwick, general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, said that while progress was being made, a target to give women a choice of where to give birth - a Labour manifesto promise at the last general election - looked like being missed.
Speaking ahead of her organisation’s annual conference, she also said there were signs that budgets were being squeezed at a time that the birth rate had risen 20% since 2001.
She said full choice of where to give birth – at home, hospital or in a midwife-led birth unit – was only offered in about half of the cases.
The government has said 3,400 midwives are to be recruited, however the RCM believes the NHS is still 5,000 short.
Professor Warwick said: "I think we have reached a critical point. Extra money has trickled down, but not enough.
"We need to make sure we get extra midwives into the NHS, but some places are seeing budgets cut and staffing shortages.
"The rising birth rate means that services are struggling to develop and maintain a range of care."
Health Secretary Andy Burnham and shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley will also address the two-day RCM conference in Manchester.
Health minister Ann Keen said an extra £330m was being invested into midwifery services.
"All women can expect individual support from a midwife, supported by a wider maternity team throughout her labour and birth," she said.
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Title: Critical point for maternity services
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 13382
Date Added: 26th Nov 2009