Higher numbers of midwives transitioning from training could deliver an extra 300 midwives by 2021, according to Health Education England (HEE) plans.
The strategy – called Transforming the Maternity Workforce – also recommends improving retention of staff to help boost the number midwives in England.
This builds on a commitment already made by HEE to increase midwifery training placements by 25% over the next four years, providing just over 350 full-time staff in 2022/23 and just under 550 each year for three years after.
Together, the interventions aim to help address a projected shortfall in 2021 of between 1,050 and 2,386 midwives by delivering at least 750-800 extra full-time staff.
The organisation also highlighted increasing attrition rates by midwives from the NHS in England, noting a rise from an average of 2.8-2.9% per year in 2012/13 to 3.5% now.
Fewer than 50 midwives have undertaken return to practice schemes to date, a number HEE wants to see boosted to around 100 a year.
HEE says it will continue to develop a long-term strategy, expecting the delivery of a further 2,000 full-time staff from 2022 to 2026.
David Farrelly, regional director for HEE in the Midlands and East lead on Maternity Workforce Transformation, said: ‘All of the initiatives point to an even brighter future for midwives and maternity support workers, for our maternity services and even better care for the women and their families who use them.
‘We welcome the pledge for 3,000 more student midwives in training over the next few years and we look forward to working in partnership to make all of these commitments a reality.’