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Midwife workloads too high to be safe


Midwives in some regions of England have workloads more than a third higher than hospital safety standards recommend, official figures have suggested.

Regional midwife to birth ratios were revealed in figures released last week by health minister Anne Milton in response to a parliamentary question. In 2009, the ratio ranged from 28 births per midwife in the North East to 39 in the East of England and South Central areas.

Hospital birth standards, compiled by four royal colleges, recommend one midwife should have a workload of 28 births a year to “ensure one to one care in labour”.

However, while the figures show a regional lottery, the overall situation is improving.

From 2008-09, the average midwife to birth ratio for England dropped from 34.3 births to 33.2 per midwife.

During this period all 10 strategic health authorities recorded a fall, except for NHS London, where the ratio rose from 34 to 34.2 births per midwife.


Readers' comments (5)

  • Hope that is'nt my baby precariously dangled under the tap ....

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  • Commissioning if done properly is the way ahead
    However for ANY service to be effective there need to be a credable and realistic analysis of all the resourses needed to effectively deliver that service.
    This is rarely / never done
    The commissioners have poor knowledge of services and UNREALISTIC expectations when doing the Commissioning plans
    These plans are then often signed off by service managers who dont stand up to/ or challenge thecommissioners .

    Clinicians then become the very thin piece of meat in the sandwich
    They are neither supported by service managers or commissioiners bur still expectewd to deliver a "Quality Service"
    LOSE / LOOSE situation for clients and clinictians

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  • How much time do midwives spend doing unnecessary or inappropriate data entry? This surely has a significant impact on workload and quality of patient care. See for an interesting assessment of the situation by a hospital Consultant

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  • Steve Williams


    Alas it is utterly true – even here in Utopiacanada at the moment.

    I have only known two places/periods in my nursing career where this was not the case... The Royal Masonic Hospital in West London, UK (which basically went bust when the Freemasons were forced to make budget cuts in their organization) and the Joint Armed Forces Psych Unit - RAF Wegburg at JHQ West Germany (The Psych Unit has since been closed due to MoD budget cutbacks.)

    Anyone see any similarities there – even though there are only two cases that I can highlight over a nursing career spanning 36 years so far?

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