Full birth wards turn women in labour away

The baby boom has been blamed for the overcrowded wards

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Almost half of all maternity units questioned have turned away women in labour in the last year because they’re too full, says a survey.

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The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) asked 91 senior midwives about their experiences over the last year. It says that because Britain is going through the biggest baby boom in 40 years, there is a midwife shortage.

46% of the senior midwives questioned turned away women in labour, meaning these women had to travel to another hospital, because there was no space.

25% said their budget had been cut in the last year and they didn’t have enough to employ as many members of staff as needed.

It says that the baby boom is creating a midwife crisis. There were 694,241 births in 2012, the highest number since 1971.

Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the RCM, said: “Despite welcome increases in midwife numbers, this survey describes a worrying picture of our maternity services, and one that shows it is not improving.

“The midwifery shortages and cuts to services it describes will have a detrimental impact on the care women, babies and their families receive.

“This shows a service that sometimes severely restricts the choices available to women, is struggling to provide continuity of care and is bursting at the seams in its ability to cope. 

“The temporary closures it highlights are just the tip of the iceberg.

“Before closures happen, services have already been stretched to their limit, and closing is the point at which safety could be compromised if that does not happen.

“I have deep misgivings about the quality of the service midwives and maternity support workers are able to provide, working in such an unstable, pressure-cooker atmosphere.’

One experienced senior midwife, who wanted to remain anonymous, told the MailOnline: “All the fat is off the bone – we cannot strip any more off. Having worked in the NHS for more than 30 years I have never known it to be so bad, and I fear for mothers and babies and midwives who are working tirelessly. 

“It is most difficult now we are trying to provide more for less with an increasing birth rate, but as far as trust boards are concerned this is not enough.

“The idealisms from the Department of Health and House of Commons are just not matching up with the requirements to provide this. 

“Poor performance, without adequate support, is increasing. I know they are being pressed from on high, but the elastic will break.”

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