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Births rise puts heat on midwives

A rising birthrate and more difficult births are putting midwifery services under pressure, according to a poll of senior staff.

Heads of midwifery also report inadequate staffing levels and concerns over cuts in NHS budgets.

The study for the Royal College of Midwives has been released to coincide with the start of its annual conference in Brighton.

A total of 58 heads of midwifery in England were asked about their experiences.

Three quarters (76 percent) said they have seen an increase in their birthrate this year, and just over half (53 percent) said the births have become more complex.

Eight out of ten (81 percent) who use a standard tool to measure staffing levels said they do not have enough staff available.

Fewer than one in five (18 percent) said their staffing levels are about right, and more than one in 10 (12 percent) reported a cut in the number of staff they have - by an average of 1.5 percent.

There has also been a drop in the recruitment of newly-qualified midwives, with an average of 6.9 taken on this year, dropping from 8.3 in 2005.

RCM general secretary Dame Karlene Davis said: "The experience of pregnancy and childbirth is hugely important to women and their babies.

"In order to deliver the best possible care midwives have got to be given the resources they need."  

Royal College of Midwives

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