Research suggests that the number of midwifery training places is in decline, despite a pledge by the prime minister before the general election to recruit 3,000 more midwives.
A study by the Nursing Standard found that six out of 10 of England's strategic health authorities (SHAs) will cut the number of training places available in 2011/12.
The number of posts available in the West Midlands SHA is set to be slashed by almost 17%, while the East of England faces a fall of 12%. Cathy Warwick of the Royal College of Midwives described the news as "extremely worrying".
There are also falls elsewhere across England. The number of positions in the south west will be cut by 9%, the north east will drop by nearly 6%, the East Midlands 4% and Yorkshire and the Humber by just over 2%.
Speaking before the election, David Cameron said midwives were "overworked and demoralised", adding: "We will increase the number of midwives by 3,000."
But the latest research shows that across all SHAs in England, the number of midwifery training places will be cut by 3.6%, with only two authorities planning to fund an increase in places and a further two planning no change.
The study also found that Scotland will almost halve its midwifery places from 184 to 100 in 2011/12, while Northern Ireland will train an additional 30 midwives.
Copyright © Press Association 2011
We asked if you are you worried about the lack of midwives and training places. How will this affect the profession? Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
"This worried me a lot, as I am actually applying for a degree in midwifery. So what will happen to us, the new generation who want to be trained as a midwife? There is already a shortage of staff, so what will happen to new mothers to be? If there are less midwives, this means less time allocated to each mother. What a shame" - Mata Helena, London
"From my observation many couples in the West Midlands have large families. Three or more children is the norm and the pressure on maternity services is huge. Several of my colleagues, including myself, will be retiring soon. It's essential that there is an ongoing programme of training young
midwives to replace those that will retire. As for working until age 65, which is what is now facing the younger generation, how many midwives will have the stamina to keep going that long in such a physically demanding and stressful field of nursing? I am thankful that I am from the generation of nurses that can still retire at 60" - C Hulme, West Midlands
"Midwifery will be going in the same direction as health visiting has gone - and now we are trying to redress the situation. The start in life for mother, baby and family is crucial, this should not be allowed to happen" - S James, Somerset
"If there is such a shortage of midwives why do people face so much frustration when they want to train to be midwives?" - Esther Appiah-Fordjour
"Midwifery services are already understaffed as it is, so to reduce the numbers of potential midwives entering the profession will stretch this much valued service to its limits. Many midwives are approaching retirement and there will be no new blood to replace them" - Sarah Campbell, West Midlands
"How can the government support this, midwives are imperative front line nursing staff to the precious lives of our future. Utter madness to cut this service. There are so many people that are interested in undertaking their midwifery training, so what message does this put out to them" - Name and address supplied
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