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Baby boom continues to stretch maternity services in the NHS

View profile for Judith Thomas-Whittingham
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The second annual State of Maternity Services Report by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has revealed that in 2011 there were 688,120 babies born in England, up more than 124,000 since 2001.

The continuing baby boom is putting a stretch on the maternity departments and the report confirmed that this was evidenced in the 2012 ‘Bounty’s Word of Mum Panel’ which found that 40% of women had always seen a different midwife during their most recent pregnancy.

The Panel also found that a fifth of women did not feel supported by the NHS during their pregnancy and birth, rising to a third who did not feel supported following the birth.

Following the results from the Panel, the RCM have admitted that they ‘need to do better’ however, they identified that there was extra pressure on resources because mothers are getting older and their workforce is also getting older.

In England between 2002 and 2011 the proportion of midwives aged 45 or over jumped from a third to a half. Whereas the number of births to women aged 45 or over in Scotland between 2001 and 2011 more than tripled.

The statistics have revealed that in England, the shortage of midwives has decreased and it was now at its lowest since 2005. However, the RCM identified the country was still short of 4,976 midwives in 2011.

It has been predicted that the baby boom in England will continue. The RCM has praised the Government in England and described them as a ‘star’ when it came to training new midwives. They have however urged them to continue the good work and follow through on its undertaking to increase midwife numbers.

By Sarah Fairclough