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Published on February 23rd, 2012 | by Natalie Hodgson
Image © [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="567" caption="© Erling A via Flickr"][/caption] Following on from my latest blog about Britain's unemployed youth, I've decided to follow-up with a blog about the Midwives in England and Wales after reading a Guardian article Tuesday afternoon. The article is about a scheme called Neighbourhood Midwives and is caseload midwifery - midwives would get a set number of medically low risk cases per year enabling them to get to know their client and provide more personal care from the start of pregnancy until 6 weeks after birth. Doing this would enable pregnant women with medically medium and high risk pregnancies greater access to NHS resources during their pregnancy. So what is the current state of the working life of an NHS Midwife? Is it truly in such a dire state there needs to be plans to reform midwifery in England and Wales? Nearly 4 month ago the Guardian had an article about 2 deaths in Essex hospitals from giving birth. It is very saddening to know there are such negative experiences and deaths occurring -  while it is possible these and other  incidents occurred  through negligence, it is also possible incidents are occurring due to pressures faced by midwives. The latest figures on the Office of National Statistics (ONS) from 2010 are unfortunately - however they can be used to give an indication of the current fertility rate in England and Wales.  In 2010 the fertility rate for England was 2.00 and Wales was very close, I'm guessing around 1.95 - meaning in England there were 2 children per woman and 1.95 children in Wales (and yes I do know it is impossible to have less than 1 child). I'm also assuming currently in 2012 England will have fertility rate of 2.01 and Wales 2.00, and the Government's National Projection statistics (based on 2010 statistics) suggests the number of births in England and Wales, per year, are going to keep rising up to 760,000 in 2013 to 2014. If you were wondering the ONS recorded there were 722,959 births in England and Wales in 2010,  of these births 11,228 were multiple births. According to February's labour market statistics in September 2011 there are 1.557 million people working in the NHS. Of these 1.557 million, I would expect about 35,000 of the staff to be Midwives. In reality, as stated by Channel 4's FactCheck,  there are 21,028 Midwives in England - a figure with has risen by 896 following David Cameron's pledge to increase Midwives by 3,000. While 21,028 Midwives in England alone might seem like enough, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) believes it is far from enough. The RCM is currently running a campaign called Protect Maternity Services, which is an e-petition for 5,000 more Midwives in England. In summary it looks like NHS Midwives are understaffed, over-worked and dealing with high numbers of complex pregnancies - multiple births and possibly obese mothers. Certainly not an acceptable environment due to high stress levels and patients needing a lot of care, a point exacerbated with complex pregnancies. It is easy to see why there are negative experiences during pregnancy and birth. The midwifery system in the NHS does need changing, especially if birth rates are to rise, the question is how do we go about changing it to the benefit of all the soon to be new mothers?

4

British Midwives in 2012

© Erling A via Flickr

Following on from my latest blog about Britain’s unemployed youth, I’ve decided to follow-up with a blog about the Midwives in England and Wales after reading a Guardian article Tuesday afternoon. The article is about a scheme called Neighbourhood Midwives and is caseload midwifery – midwives would get a set number of medically low risk cases per year enabling them to get to know their client and provide more personal care from the start of pregnancy until 6 weeks after birth. Doing this would enable pregnant women with medically medium and high risk pregnancies greater access to NHS resources during their pregnancy.

So what is the current state of the working life of an NHS Midwife? Is it truly in such a dire state there needs to be plans to reform midwifery in England and Wales? Nearly 4 month ago the Guardian had an article about 2 deaths in Essex hospitals from giving birth. It is very saddening to know there are such negative experiences and deaths occurring –  while it is possible these and other  incidents occurred  through negligence, it is also possible incidents are occurring due to pressures faced by midwives.

The latest figures on the Office of National Statistics (ONS) from 2010 are unfortunately – however they can be used to give an indication of the current fertility rate in England and Wales.  In 2010 the fertility rate for England was 2.00 and Wales was very close, I’m guessing around 1.95 – meaning in England there were 2 children per woman and 1.95 children in Wales (and yes I do know it is impossible to have less than 1 child). I’m also assuming currently in 2012 England will have fertility rate of 2.01 and Wales 2.00, and the Government’s National Projection statistics (based on 2010 statistics) suggests the number of births in England and Wales, per year, are going to keep rising up to 760,000 in 2013 to 2014. If you were wondering the ONS recorded there were 722,959 births in England and Wales in 2010,  of these births 11,228 were multiple births.

According to February’s labour market statistics in September 2011 there are 1.557 million people working in the NHS. Of these 1.557 million, I would expect about 35,000 of the staff to be Midwives. In reality, as stated by Channel 4’s FactCheck,  there are 21,028 Midwives in England – a figure with has risen by 896 following David Cameron’s pledge to increase Midwives by 3,000. While 21,028 Midwives in England alone might seem like enough, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) believes it is far from enough. The RCM is currently running a campaign called Protect Maternity Services, which is an e-petition for 5,000 more Midwives in England.

In summary it looks like NHS Midwives are understaffed, over-worked and dealing with high numbers of complex pregnancies – multiple births and possibly obese mothers. Certainly not an acceptable environment due to high stress levels and patients needing a lot of care, a point exacerbated with complex pregnancies. It is easy to see why there are negative experiences during pregnancy and birth. The midwifery system in the NHS does need changing, especially if birth rates are to rise, the question is how do we go about changing it to the benefit of all the soon to be new mothers?

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  • anniedemer

    Thanks for your article Natalie, I enjoyed reading it.

    A friend of mine is a midwife and emigrated to Australia with her partner, mainly because the prospects of a midwife in Australia are far superiour to those in Britain – more respect, better wages, more communication…her list goes on.

    I stand by my own (controversial) conviction that people should stop having soooo many babies, particularly post-menopausal ladies who pay extortionate sums for IVF. (That's just me ranting though, you can ignore it if you like 🙂 )

    I'll pass this onto my friend and see what she has to say!

    Thanks,
    Annie

  • Natalie Hodgson

    Thank you for your reply, I'm glad you enjoyed reading it.

    I can understand why your friend emigrated to Australia, the lack of respect for our midwives is rather disgraceful since most try to do as much as they can in such stressful conditions.

    • anniedemer

      Absolutely! Also currently enjoying your piece on selective abortions – I say 'enjoying' in the loosest possible sense…it's shocking!!!

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