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Maternity services to be 'future proofed' amid concerns of NHS midwife shortage

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NHS staffing shortages causing concern

There is concern of a midwife shortage on the horizon in Wales as more babies are being born and many midwives are nearing retirement age.

The Registered College of Midwives (RCM) annual ‘State of Maternity Services’ report found that in March 2016, more than 1/3 (35%) of midwives working in the NHS in Wales, were in their 50s and 60s.  

Helen Rogers, RCM’s Director for Wales, is calling on the Welsh Government to ‘future proof’ maternity services as a matter of urgency.  The RCM want to see an increase in the number of training places for student midwives. They want to make sure that sufficient numbers of student midwives can be introduced into the service and trained, before a growing number of midwives are lost to retirement in Wales.      

The concern is fuelled by the fact that not only are the number of babies being born on the increase, but also those being born to older women. In 2014 in Wales 1,000 more babies were born to women in their early 30s than in 2003, and 300 more babies were born to women aged 40 or over than in 2003.  The rising number of older women giving birth, according to Ms Rogers, “...adds to the complexity of care being required.”

Ms Rogers is urging the Welsh Government to “...make this their top priority...” in order to avert midwife shortages similar to those being experienced in England.