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.