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Midwifery 'time bomb' as job uncertainty grips

More than half of student and newly qualified midwives are struggling to find a job, it is claimed.

A survey by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) shows almost three-quarters of student and newly qualified midwives believe there are not enough vacancies for the number of midwives seeking jobs.

Of the respondents that have begun their job hunt, 32% have not yet been successful in securing a midwifery post. Nearly two-thirds of these were “not optimistic” about their chances of finding a job.

Not all of those surveyed by the RCM managed to graduate. More than a third of student midwives left their course due to the “financial burden” placed upon them.

“Many” students said that they were being used to “plug holes” caused by staff shortages and worried about accumulating “considerable” debt.

“I am terrified at the prospect of qualifying,” said one student.

“I think it is disgusting that scores of talented, enthusiastic midwives are finding themselves out of work because the government doesn't recognise the need to provide thousands more midwives for the NHS.”

Survey respondents have also criticised the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) for having to wait “several months” to be registered with the NMC - causing delays to when they can start work.

The RCM has recommended the NMC “streamline its processes” to ensure recent midwifery graduates can obtain NMC registration “more speedily”.

A spokesperson for the NMC has rejected claims the organisation is responsible for delays in midwifery students receiving registration.

Once all registration documents are received - such as the university's ‘declaration of good health and good character' and the student's application form - the NMC said the graduate should be registered within 2-10 days.

“The NMC recommends that graduates carefully complete the application form and return it as soon as possible to ensure speedy processing of their application,” the NMC spokesperson told NiP.

“The morale among student midwives is plummeting because of their accumulated debts and uncertainty about getting a job after graduating,” said Cathy Warwick, General Secretary of the Royal College of Midwives. 

"We have a demographic time bomb with an ageing midwifery population and with many midwives nearing retirement. We need to be nurturing and grooming our next generation of student midwives as they are our profession's lifeblood and future."

The Royal College of Midwives