More midwives needed9th October 2007
A report by the Royal Colleges has said more midwives, obstetricians and anaesthetists need to be employed in order to make childbirth safer.
The Royal Colleges for Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Midwives, Anaesthetists and Paediatricians' report looked at how safety improvements could be made.
Figures show that only 26% of units employ a sufficient number of midwives to provide "one-to-one care". Only around 50% of units are able to make certain that an obstetrician is available on the ward for at least 40 hours per week.
In the UK, there are 13.1 deaths for every 100,000 pregnant women and 8.6 deaths of babies per 1,000 births. Thus figure has shown no change over the past ten years.
The report recommends that women should receive one-to-one care during labour. However, the Royal College of Midwives said that 5,000 people would need to be employed in order to offer this type of care.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has said the current number of consultants - 1,600 - needs to be boosted to at least 2,100. It called for obstetricians to be more available and "spend more time" on the ward.
The report said an increase in ward coverage is needed and units with more than 6,000 births per year should ensure that a consultant was available 24 hours a day.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: "It would be utterly wrong to give the impression of a maternity service with falling or insufficient staff numbers - there are 2,084 more midwives and 474 more consultants in obstetrics and gynaecology since 1997."
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