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Baby boom fuels midwives shortage

Britain's rising birthrate is leading to a shortage in the number of midwives on our hospital wards, a new report has said.

An analysis of midwifery care by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has led the organisation to draw attention to midwife shortages in areas struck by spiralling birth rates.

The NMC, the body responsible for regulating the profession, said midwifery was "still playing catch-up" with the changing population.

Health authorities were called on to take action in the report Supervision, Support and Safety: An Analysis Of The 2008 To 2009 Local Supervising Authorities' Annual Reports To The NMC.

The Department of Health (DH) claims maternity funding has doubled since 1997 to almost reach £2 billion.

NMC Chief Executive and Registrar Professor Dickon Weir-Hughes said: "The NMC urges maternity service providers, related health authorities and the UK health departments to monitor the situation and act swiftly if LSAs raise concerns about the quality of care provided to mothers and babies."

Commenting on NMC report's findings, Cathy Warwick, General Secretary of the Royal College of Midwives said: "It is encouraging that supervisors of midwives to midwife ratios have improved in some areas. I would want to see concerted action to meet the recommended ratio in areas that are falling short."

A DH spokesperson said: "We have set a goal to recruit an extra 4,000 midwives by 2012 and the NHS has already exceeded an interim target to recruit 1,000 by September this year which shows the high priority being given to maternity services."

Copyright © Press Association 2010

Nursing and Midwifery Council