Eastern region faces shortage of midwives

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WEST SUFFOLK Hospital is bucking the trend in the East of England’s midwife shortage.

New figures released by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) show that 780 full-time midwives are needed in the East of England after a boom in the birthrate over the last 10 years.

Pat Gould, East of England regional manager for the RCM said: “It is deeply worrying that the region remains short on midwives, with the birthrate increasing at such a rate.

“It is also not just about numbers.

“Births are also becoming increasingly complex, putting even more demands on maternity services.

“More investment is needed, action is needed, and it is needed now.

“Without some serious attention and investment I have real fears that services in the East of England will be struggling to cope with the demands on them.”

But the national standard for maternity units is one midwife for every 30 patients, a ratio West Suffolk Hospital matches.

The hospital has recruited 15 new midwives over the last two years using money from East of England NHS including staff of different nationalities to assist non-english speaking patients.

Patricia Davis, head of midwifery at West Suffolk Hospital said: “This was awarded as part of a bid by NHS East of England to raise the number of midwives in the area.

“It has made a considerable difference.

“Now we can provide one to one care for women and we see this as a positive. When women come into labour it means they can be with a midwife they know.

“It also the extra midwives means we have been able to introduce different ways of working and to make sure there is staff available at all times so it is much more flexible.

“It has also provided employment for newly qualified midwives.

“We want to get the right mix of service to meet local needs including employing midwives of different nationalities.

“We also have Polish and Maltese midwives on our staff to meet the needs of people who don’t speak English.”