Baby boom leads to midwife shortage

With five times more babies being born this year than 10 years ago, midwives are under strain

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Births are at their highest level since 1972.

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According to the Office of National Statistics, 4,600 more babies were born in January, February and March 2013 compared with the same period last year. If this trend continues, there could be up to 20,000 more births in 2013 than in 2012.

There has been a steady increase in births since 2001, except for a dip in 2009. The Royal College of Midwives expressed concern that maternity units, already under strain, would struggle to cope.

Belinda Phipps, chief executive of parent charity the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) told the BBC: “Whilst these rates continue to rise, it’s more important than ever that there is an adequate number of midwifes and they are organised to be there when women need them.

“The most recent data from a Care Quality Commission survey suggests that 22% of women were left alone and worried at some time during labour.”

Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives told the Telegraph: “The baby boom is restarting with renewed vigour. We are already at birth numbers that haven’t been seen for at least a couple of generations, probably not in the working life of any midwife practising today.

“Today’s midwives simply have never seen anything like it. The demand this is placing on the NHS is enormous.

“NHS maternity services, especially in England, are on a knife-edge. We have carried shortages for years, but with the number of births going up and up and up. I really believe we are at the limit of what maternity services can safely deliver.”

The Government promised 3,000 new midwives across the NHS, but, according to the Telegraph, only 900 have been recruited.

The area which saw the fastest number of births is Corby, Northamptonshire, according to the Royal College of Midwives. Followed by: the London borough of Barking and Dagenham, Slough, Norwich, Peterborough, Watford, Southampton and Bristol.

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