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Wednesday 26th June 2019

Midwife shortage warning

28th June 2012

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has issued an alert over maternity care.


The watchdog body has flagged up the fact that maternity care is becoming a “problem area” for NHS trusts and the areas worst affected are London and the south-east of England.

A third of maternity units in the south-east do not have enough midwife cover and a quarter in London are facing shortages which can impact on the care expectant mothers are receiving.

Recommended levels for England are one midwife for every 28 births, but one in seven of the 141 hospitals providing maternity and midwifery services are not hitting that threshold.

The CQC has found the problems are arising because midwife numbers are not increasing to meet demand. Another factor is the rise in complex births owing to risk factors such as maternal age, weight and co-morbidity.

Some units have been forced to close and send patients elsewhere because they are unable to cope at specific times with demand.

The CQC also found one in 20 (4.8%) of midwifery posts are vacant.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) said it was “deeply concerned” at the CQC’s findings while Dr Peter Carter, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said the report was a "long overdue wake-up call for the government".

Health minister Simon Burns said: “There is no excuse for anything but the best care. By exposing poor practice and shining a light on best practice we are determined to drive up standards for everyone.”


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