Midwives warn cuts put women in danger


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Indy Lifestyle Online

Senior midwives are expecting to cut staff numbers next year, despite not having the resources at the moment to deal with England's rising birth rate.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) warns the safety of women giving birth cannot be guaranteed if anticipated cuts at already short-staffed maternity units take place.

It released a survey of heads of midwifery which revealed that a third were anticipating having to cut staffing in the next 12 months, while 60 per cent said current levels were not enough to cope with demand.

Two-thirds said the rising birthrate was adding to the pressure on midwives, while 79 per cent said they were dealing with increasingly complex cases that required more time and attention.

In July, the Office for National Statistics reported that the number of births had risen by 2.4 per cent.

Some heads of midwifery said they are now less able to provide a breadth of services, including home births.

Almost one in three also predicted they would have to reduce these services in the coming 12 months.

Cathy Warwick, general secretary of the RCM, said: "These results are deeply disturbing given the steeply rising birthrate and increasing needs of women. Overworked and understaffed maternity units are unsafe.

"Until now, maternity staffing numbers have simply failed to keep pace with the ever-rising number of births, but now we face the prospect of maternity staff, including possibly midwives, actually losing their jobs."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: "There are hundreds more midwives in the NHS than there were last year, and midwife training numbers are at record levels."