250 more midwives needed to keep up with ‘baby boom’

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MORE than 250 more midwives are needed in the North-West to keep up with the baby boom says the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).

This is 50 more than when the RCM last raised the issue in the region in 2008. The message comes on the back of recent figures showing that the region’s birthrate has rocketed over the last 10 years.

Burnley General Hospital, which has a new specialist maternity unit called the Lancashire Women and Newborn Unit, does not have a pressing shortage, but there is a concern that the shortage could eventually affect the centre.

Greater Manchester is most at risk according to the RCM.

There has been a 19% increase in births in the region since 2001, with births hitting 89,199 in 2010, up 2% on the previous year. The RCM estimates that 257 more midwives are needed to ensure that mothers get safe and high quality care. Midwife shortages mean that women expecting a home birth are denied one. It will mean midwife-led units close, permanently or temporarily.

Breastfeeding rates will not improve because there are not enough midwives to offer women the help and support they need.

Jeanne Tarrant, the Royal College of Midwives’ regional manager for the North-West, said: “It is deeply worrying that the region remains so short of midwives and that it has worsened, with the birthrate increasing at such a rate. It is also not just about numbers. Births are also becoming increasingly complex, putting even more demands on maternity services.

“More investment is needed, action is needed, and it is needed now. Without some serious attention and investment I have real fears that services in the North West and Greater Manchester will be struggling to cope with the demands on them.”