The NHS does not have a plan for how or when it will solve the 4,500 midwife shortage, Sir David Nicholson told MPs this week.
Giving evidence to the Commons Public Accounts Committee on Tuesday, the NHS chief executive said he accepted the need for 4,500 extra midwives, but denied the service was in “crisis”.
Asked how long it would take to fill the gap, he said: “I think we’re working through what that means at the moment. I don’t think we’ve concluded how we can do it.”
Cathy Warwick, general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, said Sir David was “exactly right about the deep and profound shortage of midwives”.
She continued: “That is why we were so pleased when [prime minister] David Cameron promised a year ago to recruit an extra 3,000 midwives, a promise that has disappeared without trace. It is notable that David Nicholson is suggesting that even this number would not be adequate.”
The RCM would be “more than happy” to work with the government on an action plan to recruit and retain more midwives, she added.