There's a Longstanding Midwife Shortage in Britain

Illustration for article titled Theres a Longstanding Midwife Shortage in Britain

The birthrate in Britain has grown more than 20% over the past 20 years, but the number of people becoming midwives has not grown along with it. At this point, England has a shortfall of about 4,800 midwives, and—according to one Telegraph columnist—if you go to the hospital to have your baby, there might not be anyone there to help you right away.

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Here's Louisa Peacock:

Figures suggest that a quarter of NHS Trusts had not assessed their workforce needs for at least four years. Eighty per cent of the 99 trusts responding to a Freedom of Information request by BBC Radio 4'sWoman's Hour still had vacancies in funded midwife positions.

This is despite births in England increasing by a quarter in the past decade.

And, according to the Guardian in 2011:

Cathy Warwick, the RCM general secretary, said: "This is not just a paper exercise to prove a point. These figures represent real and serious shortages in our maternity services.

"It is also not just about numbers. Births are also becoming increasingly complex, needing more of midwives' time. The combination of this and the rising birthrate is a dangerous cocktail threatening the safety and quality of maternity care.

"It means that too many maternity units across England are under-staffed and under-resourced to meet the demands made of them. It leaves me feeling deeply frustrated that we are not seeing any action from this government to remedy this."

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Yo, unemployed people of England! I know someone who's hiring. (It's a bunch of ladies' uteruses.)

Image via Andrei Zveaghintev/Shutterstock.

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DISCUSSION

clairvoyant
Clairvoyant

This issue is close to my heart because I'm in London and beginning midwifery training in September. The state of the hospitals are really concerning, especially in major cities. The problem is lack of funding, not lack of people wanting to be midwives. The university that I am applying to has 50 spaces, all funded by the NHS. Last year there were 1500 applicants for those 50 spaces.

Maternity wards are being severely affected by the cuts. There are so few midwives employed to look after a huge number of mothers. I heard a radio show where someone from the Royal College of Nursing was saying that ideal midwife to post natal mother ratios were around 1:3 or 4. Around 1:8, things get dangerous. My good friend has just graduated as a midwife (she is working in the community not labor wards) says her classmates who only qualified in September are in charge of wards with a ratio of 1:16 women, twice the danger level specified. It's fucking scary and one of the main reasons I had my last baby at home- 2 midwives with you at all times.