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Warning over midwife 'continuity' of care


There is a crisis in the number of midwives working with women in the weeks after they have given birth, a former health minister has warned.

Tory Baroness Cumberlege, a vice president of the Royal College of Midwives, said that new mothers needed a “continuity” of care, but were often seeing a different midwife at each appointment.

At question time in the House of Lords, she said: “Although there is what the Royal College of Midwives describes as a tipping point in the increase in the numbers of midwives attending women in labour, the real crisis is in post-natal care where new mothers require advice, support and help in cherishing and feeding their new born baby.

“This requires continuity of a midwife. There is a recent survey that shows that 40% of new mothers always see a different midwife.”

She described midwives as a “remarkable and very committed profession”.

Health minister Earl Howe said the number of NHS midwives had risen by more than 1,381 since May 2010.

He added: “There are a record 5,000 in training. The government has committed to ensuring that the number of midwives matches the needs of the birth rate.

“Most women already have choice and one-to-one maternity care and we are working closely with the Royal College of Midwives to ensure that personalised one-to-one maternity care is available for every woman across the country.”

The RCM warned in a report published last month that England was around 5,000 midwives short of the number of midwives required to provide mothers and babies with high-quality services.


Readers' comments (3)

  • If the RCM are concerned about the shortage of midwives, why did they overwhelmingly support the wholesale reductions to the AfC terms and conditions of their membership? Hardly the best the best way to attract bright recruits!

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  • I agree with above. Also, why are the RCM giving giving tacit support to managers who downband midwives, while saying they can't argue with AfC and the managers? Why train midwives when they may be downbanding, or, more likely, not promoted or given increment points?

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  • Agree with both the above posts.

    If "continuity of care" is seen not only as desirable but essential it is "managements" responsiblity to ensure adequate staffing.

    The CQC has the power to demand change.

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