NHS England only gains 1 midwife for every 30 trained, a new report by the Royal College of Midwives has revealed.
The number of midwives employed by NHS England rose by just 67 last year. This is despite the fact that over 2,000 midwives graduated from English universities in the 2016/17 academic year. The report states that the mass of people leaving the NHS is responsible for the disparity in the figures.
Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “it is of deep concern that we’re only seeing an increase of about one NHS midwife for every 30 or so newly-qualified midwives graduating from our universities.
“It’s not that new midwives aren’t getting jobs, they are. The problem is that so many existing midwives are leaving the service that the two things almost cancel each other out.”
Walton has called for more action in retaining NHS staff. This is a particular challenge at the moment due to the substantial number of European midwives and healthcare professionals leaving the register in a post-Brexit Britain.
Midwifery students from Manchester are reportedly taking stock of this report when thinking about undertaking roles in NHS England.
Rachel Moorhead, a second-year midwifery student at The University of Manchester, said: “there is just not enough money being put into [NHS] health services at all. The staff are so strained.
“Sometimes there’s so much to do and so little time that midwives barely have a chance to give their women their full attention”
She went on to say that “all the NHS services are really struggling, and maternity care is no different. I can totally understand why some midwives choose to go private because it seems like a chance to care for women with good resources and reasonable workloads.”
Grace Broughton, another second-year midwife at The University of Manchester, said: “So many midwives choose to go private because it allows them to give the time and care to women that all pregnant women deserve, and quite frankly people are becoming ill with the pressures of a struggling NHS.
“Some midwives choose to leave the profession altogether which is very upsetting as midwifery is a calling and vocation.
“There are many midwives of retiring age currently in the NHS who are leaving every year which counteracts the new midwives joining. Midwifery is rapidly changing alongside a high risk society and unfortunately some midwives don’t like the changes they’re witnessing.”
This report by the Royal College of Midwives comes at a time when there is a record shortage of NHS staff in England. The NHS is currently short of over 100,000 personnel, including 11,576 doctors and 41,722 nurses.