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Exodus of midwife lecturers would ‘worsen staff shortage’

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Large numbers of midwifery lecturers are planning to leave their jobs, suggests a new survey, sparking fears that England’s midwifery shortage will worsen as a result.

The Royal College of Midwives surveyed midwifery lecturers in over 60 universities across the UK, finding that 37% of respondents wanted to leave their organisation in the next two years.

“Our midwife educators are under enormous pressure”

Cathy Warwick

The college highlighted that midwives working in education were facing excessive workloads, particularly around paperwork and administration.

There were also additional pressures to publish research and gain extra qualifications without adequate time to complete them, it claimed.

For example, the survey also showed that 35% of midwife lecturers reported having to work 10 or more hours extra unpaid every week.

The college added that a “worryingly” large number of respondents, 84%, had said they could only get their work done if they worked beyond their contracted hours.

Almost half of the survey respondents, 45%, said they felt stressed every day or most days. The three most common causes of stress were workload, not enough time, and working long hours.

In a report published today on the findings, the RCM said the potential departure of so many lecturers was a “real concern” given the pressing need to train more student midwives.

Achieving such as an increase would not be possible without the right number of midwife teachers in our universities, which are already at levels lower than needed, warned the college.

It has previously estimated that the country is around 3,500 midwives short of the numbers currently needed.

Its own research has also indicated that the UK has an ageing midwifery workforce with many staff nearing retirement, while other midwives are saying job pressures are forcing them to consider leaving the profession.

Professor Cathy Warwick

Professor Cathy Warwick

Cathy Warwick

RCM chief executive Cathy Warwick said: “Our research shows very clearly that our midwife educators are under enormous pressure.

“They are coping with excessive demands and feeling under stress trying to meet those demands,” she said. “This is not sustainable.

“It is absolutely critical for the future of midwifery and maternity services that we invest in our midwifery educator workforce,” she said. “They are the people training future generations of midwives.

“Without them we simply cannot train the right number of students to come into the workforce. This in turn will worsen the midwife shortage,” she added.

The survey is part of the RCM’s Caring for You campaign, which aims to highlight the importance of health and wellbeing for midwives and maternity support workers.

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