The NHS gained only 67 midwives in the past year despite over 2000 new graduates, say the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).
In May, NHS England had a total of 21 601 midwives according to NHS Digital, a mere 67 more than the year before – however, 2132 midwives qualified from university in 2016/2017.
‘It is of deep concern that we’re only seeing an increase of about one NHS midwife for every 30 or so newly qualified midwives graduating from our universities,’ said RCM chief executive, Gill Walton
‘It’s not that new midwives aren’t getting jobs, they are. The problem is that so many existing midwives are leaving the service that the two things almost cancel each other out.’
‘The Government has committed to training an extra 3000 midwives. That’s great news and we welcome it wholeheartedly, but if the trend identified in this new report continues, those 3000 additional training places may only produce an extra 100 midwives on the NHS frontline. We must see still more trained as well as action on retaining the staff that we already have.’
The RCM have also stated that the national shortage has remained the same as the year before, with 3500 vacancies, which they say is evidence of EU-trained midwives leaving the UK following the Brexit referendum in 2016.
This year until March, only 33 EU-trained midwives joined the register – this figure was 272 before the referendum. Over this same period of time, the number of EU nurses leaving the register rose from 160 to 234.
‘Like many parts of the NHS, maternity services are under significant pressure,’ said Sue Killen, interim chief executive at the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
‘While our own data shows the number of midwives registered to work in the UK is increasing, it is also clear that the demands on the midwifery workforce are growing.’