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Midwife numbers fall short

16th April 2009

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has warned that many health authorities are not on track to provide the number of midwives it feels are needed for one-to-one care.

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The organisation wants to see one midwife for every 28 births per year.

But according to figures it has obtained, it believes only four Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) will achieve this by 2012.

And it fears that a further four SHAs – Yorkshire and Humber, East Midlands, East of England and London – are likely to exceed 32 births per midwife.

Guidelines for the NHS say that all women in labour should have a dedicated midwife.

To achieve that, the RCM says that an extra 5,000 midwives are needed by 2012, rather than the 3,400 the government has guaranteed.

General secretary Cathy Warwick said government policies were going in the right direction.

But she added: “These figures show that although the situation for most regions will be better, it will still not good be good enough to deliver the quality of care women need."

NHS Employers recognised the importance of the RCM issuing expected standards to ensure patient safety.

But its deputy head of employment services Caroline Waterfield said: “While ratios recommending appropriate staffing levels are a helpful guideline for those providing midwifery care there needs to be local flexibility for employers to take into account local need and the intensity of individual units."

The Department of Health said it expected to see real improvements in maternity services across the country over the next year.

 

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