England’s midwifery shortage could be set to get worse as large numbers of midwife lecturers admit their plans to leave their jobs in a Royal College of Midwives (RCM) survey.
The survey, part of the RCM’s Caring for You campaign for staff wellbeing, spoke to lecturers in more than 60 universities across the UK. The results showed 37% wanted to leave their job in the next two years, complicating the system’s ability to replace them with student midwives who could not be trained up in enough time by already-dwindling numbers of teachers.
A similar number of midwife lecturers (35%) said they have to work 10 or more hours extra unpaid every week and 84% agreed or strongly agreed with the statement ‘I can only get my work done if I work beyond my contracted hours’.
England is already suffering a serious midwife shortage – 3,500 midwives short of numbers needed. RCM research showed the UK has an ageing midwifery workforce with many midwives nearing retirement and many midwives are saying the pressures of their job are forcing them to consider leaving the profession.
RCM chief executive Cathy Warwick said: ‘Our research shows very clearly that our midwife educators are under enormous pressure. They are coping with excessive demands and feeling under stress trying to meet those demands. This is not sustainable.
‘It is absolutely critical for the future of midwifery and maternity services that we invest in our midwifery educator workforce. They are the people training future generations of midwives. Without them we simply cannot train the right number of students to come into the workforce.
‘I have serious doubt that we will see an increase in numbers of student midwives but if this is what the government predicts they need to ensure we have enough midwifery educators to cope not just with this increased demand, but with the demands we have right now.’
Midwives working in education are facing ‘excessive workloads, particularly around paperwork and administration,’ according to RCM research. There are also additional pressures to publish research and gain extra qualifications without adequate time to complete them.