Maternity services are facing 'enormous demands' / Getty Images


The highest number of births in 40 years is putting "enormous demands" on the maternity services at a time when they are being cut back, midwives warned yesterday.

More than 700,000 babies will be born this year, more than in any year since 1971, if the trend set in the first quarter continues, the Royal College of Midwives said.

But England was short of 5,000 midwives and a quarter of UK heads of midwifery said their budgets had been cut in the past 12 months. Cathy Warwick, the chief executive of the college, said: "The baby boom is restarting with renewed vigour. We are already at birth numbers that haven't been seen for a couple of generations. The demand this is placing on the NHS is enormous."

Student midwives are being cut and a third of those newly qualified who had started looking for work said they could not find a job.

Ms Warwick added: "We need all the midwives we can get. We're training midwives, but we're not recruiting them."