More than half of midwives are struggling to find a job, according to new research.
A survey of 463 newly-qualified midwives and 186 final-year students found 52% “strongly agreed” they were finding it difficult to get a job as a midwife.
Almost three-quarters (74%) said there were not enough vacancies for the number of midwives seeking jobs.
Some 64% were finding it difficult to get a job in a part of the country they wanted.
Of those who had yet to find a job, 62% said they were not optimistic about finding a role as a midwife, according to the poll for the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).
More than a third of those surveyed (38%) “strongly disagreed” there were enough midwifery vacancies for the number of midwives seeking employment.
David Cameron promised before the last general election that the Tories would increase the number of midwives by 3,000.
Writing in The Sun newspaper, he said midwives were “overworked and demoralised”.
The latest NHS workforce figures show the number of midwives working the equivalent of full-time has risen by just over 500 in one year.
In July 2010, there were 20,059 midwives working full-time equivalent, rising to 20,607 in July this year.
A second RCM survey of 763 student midwives published today found 73% expected to be in debt at the end of their midwifery course.
RCN general secretary, Cathy Warwick, said: “These surveys underline what the RCM has been saying and campaigning about for some time - that morale amongst student midwives is plummeting because of their accumulated debts and uncertainty about getting a job after graduating.”
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: “We’ve had no previous indication of a problem with midwives getting jobs - in fact a previous RCM survey showed significant vacancy rates.
“This is why we’ve kept up the pressure to get more midwives and training places are at record levels. However, vacancies may not always be where midwives would ideally want to work.
“To make sure the workforce is fit for the future, we’ve commissioned the Centre for Workforce Intelligence to provide a national overview of workforce planning, including advice on where vacancies lie.”