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Call for midwives as births soar

More midwives are urgently needed to handle the growing number of live births, the Royal College of Midwives has warned.

The birth rate is the highest in 40 years, with figures from the Office of National Statistics revealing that in 2010 alone, live birth numbers rose by 2.4%.

A total of 723,165 live births took place in England and Wales last year, a huge jump from 2009, where the number was 706,248.

The figure is the highest seen in almost 40 years, when it hit 725,440 in 1972.

Women are also having more children, data show, with last year's Total Fertility Rate (TFR) reaching 2.00 children per woman, compared with 1.96 in the previous year.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is now claiming that nearly 4,700 more midwives are required to tackle the increase.

Cathy Warwick, General Secretary of the RCM, said: "The government has committed to protecting student midwife training places, but this is only for one year and does little good if there are not jobs for those midwives to go to."

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Office of National Statistics