'Insufficient' Government funding threatens NHS's ability to provide universally safe maternity care, says MPs
Labour say the Coaliton has failed on its 'cynical' pre-election promise to deliver 3,000 more midwives
Charlie Cooper is Health Correspondent for The Independent, i, and The Independent on Sunday, writing on the NHS, medical advances, and international health. Since joining the papers as an editorial assistant, he has been nominated for young journalist of the year at both the Press Awards and the British Journalism Awards.
Friday 31 January 2014
England may not have enough midwives and maternity consultants to provide universally safe care because Government funding is “insufficient”, MPs have said, in the latest stark warning on the country's maternity care crisis.
Margaret Hodge, chair of the powerful Public Accounts Committee (PAC), said that despite an overall increase in the number of midwives, England was still short of 2,300 – a figure she described as “truly worrying”.
While reporting that “the vast majority” of mothers still had good experiences of NHS maternity care, the PAC said it had found evidence of hospital trusts being unable to employ enough midwives and consultants to provide “high quality, safe care”, suggesting that “available funding may be insufficient”.
“As things stand there is evidence that many maternity services are running at a loss, or at best breaking even,” Ms Hodge said.
She added that staff shortages heightened pressure on midwives and doctors working on the frontline, leading to “low morale” and “an appalling waste loss of talent”, amid evidence that one in three midwives with less than 10 years work experience now intends to leave the profession within a year.
The health minister Dr Dan Poulter said that the NHS was still “one of the safest places in the world to give birth”, adding that midwives numbers had gone up by 1,500 and “a record 5,000” were in training. However Labour said that the Government had failed on “cynical” pre-election promises to deliver 3,000 more midwives.
There were 700,000 live births in 2012, up by a quarter in the past decade, and having a baby remains the most common reason for hospital admission in England.
Maternity care cost the NHS £2.6bn in 2012-13. The National Audit Office recently found that one fifth of that budget – some £480m, or £700 per baby – goes on covering clinical negligence costs, which have risen by 80 per cent in just five years.
Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said that the high cost of negligence claims proved that “lack of investment and resources” were costing more in the long-run, causing “terrible consequences” for mothers and babies and taking a heavy financial burden on the NHS.
“You cannot get safe, high quality maternity services on the cheap,” she said. “At the moment there seems to be a gap between the actual cost of maternity care and the amount of money hospitals get to provide it. This cannot continue.”
Life & Style blogs
American Apparel makes 15-year-old YouTube star Brendan Jordan the face of its new campaign
Gill Pharaoh: Healthy nurse who killed herself in a Swiss clinic accused of doing it for 'publicity'
Porn block in India: hundreds of sexual websites banned, internet outraged
What do the emojis on Snapchat mean?
'Cool kids' can go on to become losers in later life, study finds
- 1 Malaysia issues arrest warrant for Gordon Brown’s sister-in-law after she publishes stories on leader Najib Razak's financial affairs
- 2 Porn block in India: hundreds of sexual websites banned, internet outraged
- 3 Natalia Molchanova: World's most successful free-driver is missing and feared dead after disappearing in Mediterranean
- 4 Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
- 5 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
£350 p/d (Contract): Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Web Developer (PHP /...
£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£16000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...
£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...