ation { *zoom: 1; } ">Maternity services overworked, understaffed and struggling to cope shows senior midwives survey • FUND OUR NHS

Maternity services overworked, understaffed and struggling to cope shows senior midwives survey

Maternity unit closures, budget and training cuts and reduced services are among the issues highlighted by a survey of UK senior midwives published today (22.30 Saturday, 10th October 2015)  by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).

Maternity unit closures, budget and training cuts and reduced services are among the issues highlighted by a survey of UK senior midwives published today (22.30 Saturday, 10th October 2015)  by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).

The RCM believes that maternity units are facing unprecedented challenges as a historically high birth-rate, increasingly complex births, and a serious shortage of midwives in England piles pressure on services.

According to the survey of Heads of Midwifery (HoMs) over two-fifths of maternity units had to close temporarily during the last year because they couldn’t cope with the demand – 32.8% in 2014 and 41.5% in 2015. Units closed their doors on average on 6.6 separate occasions in 2014 and 4.8 separate occasions in 2015. The most times a single unit closed in a year was 33 times (2014) and 23 times (2015).

The number of closures is a reflection of the rising demands on services from increasingly complex births and staffing levels. Most senior midwives surveyed – 96.9% in 2014 and 91.3% in 2015 – said their unit is dealing with more complex cases than the previous year.

On staffing levels well over a quarter of HoMs – 29.5% in 2014 and 29.6% in 2015 – said that they simply did not have enough midwives. The shortage of midwives in England remains critical with the country still short of 2600 full-time midwives.

Services are also being reduced as inadequate funding and staffing shortages bite. A tenth of HoMs – 10.9% in 2014 and 11.0% 2015 – reported that they had to reduce services in the last year. This included reductions in specialist midwives, fewer parent classes and less bereavement and breast feeding support.

Full report at the Royal College of Midwives 8 October 2015