A baby boom has pushed maternity services in the UK to a “crucial tipping point”, with midwives under intense strain and hospitals struggling to cope.
The Royal College of Midwives said there is a massive shortage of midwives after some areas of the UK had seen a 50% rise in the number of births in the last few years.
In a report to be published in parliament on Tuesday, the RCM warned that an extra 5,000 midwives were needed in England alone to deal with the highest birth rate in 40 years. It represents the college’s latest warning on the midwifery workforce.
The college is calling on the government to provide a guarantee not to cut midwife training places.
Each of the four parts of the UK has experienced a rise in the number of births in the last decade - 22% in England, 17% in Wales, 15% in Northern Ireland and 12% in Scotland.
The RCM said England and Wales had been “overwhelmed” by the rising birth rate, but while midwife numbers were increasing a little the strain on numbers has led to antenatal care of expectant mothers becoming “threadbare”.