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Thousands more NHS midwives needed

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The Royal College of Midwives release report demonstrating worrying figures about the number of UK midwives. It has been revealed that the NHS currently requires 2,600 midwives, a number which is set to rise as those at the end of their careers retire. 

A growing number of first mothers in their 30s and 40s is part of the reason why more midwives are required as women giving birth later often require more care and are at greater risk of complications. There has been 200,000 births to women in their early thirties in each year since 2010 and, for women in their forties, births have been above 29,000 for four years in a row. 

In addition, the Royal College have described their workforce as a “retirement time bomb”; the number of midwives aged 50 or over has doubled from 4,057 in 2001 to 8,169 in 2014 with more than a thousand midwives now over the age of 60. 

It is apparent that there has been a cultural change with women choosing to wait to start their families. The NHS needs to consider these figures carefully as this trend is not likely to reverse and there will always be the need to replace retiring midwives and recruit larger numbers of staff in order to maintain good standards of care for mothers-to-be and their babies.