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Midwives 'overstretched'

13th June 2007

Figures released by the Conservative Party are claiming that midwives are delivering 25% more babies than experts feel are appropriate.

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Opposition politicians also claim the government failed to anticipate a big rise in the birth rate in England.

They say this has left midwives under intense pressure and the government looking vulnerable in its plan to offer all women a choice of where to give birth by 2009.

Live births in England increased by 12.5% (71,000) since 2001 with a 26-year high of 635,679 recorded last year. But the number of midwives has only risen by 4.5% in that time.

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley argued a shortage of midwives was jeopardising the future of some maternity-led units as midwives were being deployed to larger consultant-led units. He also said pressure placed on midwives explained why the rate of home births is relatively low.

He said: “Labour are trying to pursue a policy for which they do not have the staff.�

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) recommends each midwife should deliver 27.5 babies a year but at present in England that was 33.7. A recent RCM survey also showed that while 75% of units had seen a rise in births, 80% did not have enough staff to cope.

General Secretary Dame Karlene Davis said the problem would be compounded because almost 45% of midwives were set to retire over the next 10 years.

The Department of Health accused the Conservatives of “irresponsible scaremongering�, adding there were now 2,423 more midwives than a decade ago.

 

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Article Information

Title: Midwives 'overstretched'
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 3122
Date Added: 13th Jun 2007

Sources

BBC News

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