There is a crisis in the number of midwives working with women in the weeks after they have given birth, a former health minister has warned.
Tory Baroness Cumberlege, a vice president of the Royal College of Midwives, said that new mothers needed a “continuity” of care, but were often seeing a different midwife at each appointment.
At question time in the House of Lords, she said: “Although there is what the Royal College of Midwives describes as a tipping point in the increase in the numbers of midwives attending women in labour, the real crisis is in post-natal care where new mothers require advice, support and help in cherishing and feeding their new born baby.
“This requires continuity of a midwife. There is a recent survey that shows that 40% of new mothers always see a different midwife.”
She described midwives as a “remarkable and very committed profession”.
Health minister Earl Howe said the number of NHS midwives had risen by more than 1,381 since May 2010.
He added: “There are a record 5,000 in training. The government has committed to ensuring that the number of midwives matches the needs of the birth rate.
“Most women already have choice and one-to-one maternity care and we are working closely with the Royal College of Midwives to ensure that personalised one-to-one maternity care is available for every woman across the country.”
The RCM warned in a report published last month that England was around 5,000 midwives short of the number of midwives required to provide mothers and babies with high-quality services.