Fall in number of Morecambe Bay midwives prompts mum and baby safety fears

A midwives union has warned women and babies could be at risk with hospitals in Morecambe Bay seeing a fall in the number of qualified staff working on maternity wards.

By Will Grimond
Monday, 11th April 2022, 3:44 pm
Updated Monday, 11th April 2022, 4:10 pm

The University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay had more than a dozen fewer midwives in December than they did a year earlier, according to new figures.

The Royal College of Midwives has accused the Government of doing “far too little” to prevent what it calls a recruitment and retention crisis in the profession across England.

NHS Digital figures show the equivalent of 142.7 full-time midwives were working at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust in December 2021 — 15.8 fewer than 158.5 at the same point in 2020.

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The number of midwives working in Morecambe Bay hospitals has fallen.

In 2019 there were the equivalent of 155.5 full-time midwives working for the trust.

Full-time equivalent measures the proportion of full-time hours an employee is contracted to work, meaning the figures are likely to be lower than the actual headcount of staff — some of whom may work part time.

Gill Walton, chief executive of the RCM, a trade union for midwives, warned: “England is still more than 2,000 midwives short of where we need to be and that simply isn’t good enough.

"While we welcome attempts to train and recruit new midwives, this Government is doing nothing to stop the experienced and qualified ones from leaving.

“At the same time as demands on services and the pressures on maternity staff are rising, staff numbers are going down.

“Despite the often heroic work of midwives and others to try to plug the gaps, this is putting the quality of care and the safety of women and babies at risk.”

Across England, there were the equivalent of 337 fewer full-time midwives working for the NHS in December 2021 than at the same point in 2020.

In March 2021, NHS England announced a recruitment drive for maternity staff, promising £95m to be spent on recruiting 1,200 midwives and 100 obstetricians.

A spokesperson for NHS England said: “We recognise that we have more to do to bolster our maternity workforce to ensure that we can provide the safest possible care for women and their babies.”