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Aberdeen birth unit reopens after filling midwife vacancies

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A birth centre in Scotland has reopened after successfully tackling midwife shortages.

The unit at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital was co-located with the labour ward in May due to high vacancies, as reported by Nursing Times.

The midwife unit reopened yesterday following the recruitment of 14 newly qualified midwives for Aberdeen Maternity Hospital, NHS Grampian confirmed.

The new appointments have brought the hospital’s vacancy rate down to 8.1 whole time equivalent posts. It is understood the closure was originally only due to remain in place for three months but was extended. 

Senior charge midwife, Linda Stewart, said: “I am thrilled to have the midwife unit back as an independent unit. 

“Co-locating in the labour ward was absolutely the right thing to do to keep women safe,” she said. “However, the recruitment of newly qualified midwives has enabled us to rethink our staffing at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital.

“This means we can offer the full range of midwife-led care, including the birthing pool, to women with low risk pregnancies,” she added.

Last month, the Royal College of Midwives released a report analysing the current state of maternity services in Scotland.

It found that, while the country’s workforce was in a better position than England’s, the overall midwife vacancy rate had risen from 1.3% in September 2013, to 5% in March 2018.

In addition, a “significant proportion” of the midwifes in Scotland were aged over 55 and preparing for retirement, the document added.

The RCM report said staffing was a particular problem in the north of the country and named NHS Grampian as one of three health boards with “concerning” midwife shortages.

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Source: NHS Grampian

Staff celebrate the reopening of Aberdeen Maternity Hospital’s midwife unit

In January 2019, a new fast track midwifery programme will be introduced in Scotland enabling registered nurses to retrain as midwives in two years in Inverness.

The document stated: “This is likely to go some way to address the particularly acute problems in the north.”

The RCM acknowledged in the report the proactive work being undertaken in the north to promote midwifery as profession to local school leavers.

However, it added: “The midwifery and wider health workforce in the north of Scotland and on the islands is fragile and focussed work on recruitment and retention of midwives and other linked professions in these areas should be a priority for the Scottish government.”

First minister Nicola Sturgeon last month revealed plans to increase student bursaries for midwifery to £10,000 per year by 2020-21.

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