Baby boom pushing midwives to the limit

A NEW report has highlighted the pressures on maternity services in Yorkshire after a baby boom over the last ten years.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) said rising birth rates and an ageing workforce were leaving hospitals struggling to cope and many maternity units had too few staff.

The report says Yorkshire has seen a 20 per cent increase in births since 2001 – a difference of 11,345 births between 2001 and 2010.

But in the same period, there has been just an 11 per cent increase in the number of full-time midwives in the region, equating to 202 extra midwives.

The report says: “Overall this is a story of a nationwide baby boom met by a patchy and underwhelming response by the NHS in England.”

Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust (CHFT) said it employs 174 full-time midwives and delivered 6,100 births last year.

This means the trust is working at a ratio of one midwife to 35 births – close to the guidelines of one to 30 births. Jeanne Tarrant, RCM’s team manager for the north east, said: “This trust is not far off. They will need to keep up with it and not rest. I would want to know how many of those are hands-on and care for babies and mothers and how many are senior managers that don’t do clinical care.”

She added: “We know from the national picture there is an ageing midwife population. So while there has been an increase in the midwives in Yorkshire, there’s still a shortfall because of the ageing population. More needs to be done on that.”

A spokeswoman for CHFT said: “We have an excellent reputation, and find we have no shortage of applicants when we are recruiting.

“Our midwives are essential to providing safe, high quality care for women at all stages of their pregnancy. We are very proud of our maternity staff and our reputation.”

The full report can be found on the RCM website at http://www.rcm.org.uk/college/policy-practice/government-policy/state-of-maternity-services/