A national shortage of midwives is the reason behind a significant variability in the quality of maternity care between NHS Trusts and the persistent inequalities in the experiences of women, said UNISON the UK’s largest union today.
The report by the House of Commons Public Account Committee on Maternity services in England, underlines the union’s call for more midwives to meet current birth rates, as the shortage is posing risks to women and babies. The union is urging the Government to boost midwifery training and for more jobs to be made available to fill the shortage.
The report also backs UNISON’s own findings in a 2013 survey which revealed staffing levels were not adequate according to 70% of health staff.
UNISON head of nursing Gail Adams said:
“New and expectant mothers deserve the best care at such an important time in their lives, but the shortage of midwives means women are now subject to a postcode lottery when it comes to giving birth.
“The aim of every midwife is to give the best possible care and safest delivery for mothers and their babies. Women should be able to have their baby in the place of their choice and for many the place of choice is home. That choice is being denied because the NHS can only meet the needs of mothers if there are enough midwives in maternity care.
“The increasing birth rate is putting a lot of pressure on the midwifery profession. And the shortage of midwives means the number of births that they have to deal with exceeds recommended levels in most areas of the UK.
“It is no wonder morale is low considering they are seeing their workload increase and their pay package reduced. All this is putting the profession at risk as more midwives are saying enough is enough and intend to leave the job.”