Hundreds of thousands of mothers are being discharged from hospital too early because of a chronic shortage of midwives, a new report warns.
Research by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) found that 40 per cent of new mothers are told to leave their ward before they are ready, endangering them and their newborn baby.
The report warned that mothers are being “let down by the NHS” and lives are being put at risk – and called for immediate investment to recruit more midwives.
It also warned that local hospitals are failing to give women the level of care recommended by the NHS watchdog, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.
Two in three midwives said organisational pressures were the biggest factor affecting the level of care mothers receive. Only 23 per cent said the needs of the women were the main driving force.
Jane Munro, the report’s author and the Quality and Audit Development Adviser at the RCM, said that discharging mothers before they were ready meant they were not being given enough advice on how to spot danger signs in their and their baby’s health – which in turn increased the risk of delays in diagnosing serious illnesses.
“It could mean that illnesses are not picked up quickly enough, or it could even put lives in danger”, she said.