Increase funding for maternity services to increase and retain midwifery staff

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Despite more than 2,000 midwives graduating in midwifery in the last 12 months the net rise in midwives totalled just 67 full-time midwives across the whole of England. For every 30 midwives trained it was the equivalent of one full-time midwife joining the NHS. The current system of recruitment and retainment of midwives is like trying to fill a seriously leaking bucket.

We need to find a better way.

The government has already promised an extra recruitment of 3000 midwives over the next few years. We believe implementing the Better Births, Continuity of Carer proposal (where every woman has a named midwife or case loading team of midwives for the whole of her care) is currently unachievable with the current low numbers of midwives being recruited and also the huge number that are leaving the profession.

In 2017 Royal College of Midwives (RCM) commissioned the Work, Health and Emotional Lives of Midwives (WHELM) study for the United Kingdom (UK) and found that a huge 83% of participants were suffering from personal burnout and 67% were experiencing work related burnout. It also found that high numbers of midwives were intending to leave the profession with 66.6% of participants stating they had thought about leaving the profession within the last six months. The two top reasons were: ‘Dissatisfaction with staffing levels at work’ (60%) and ‘Dissatisfaction with the quality of care I was able to provide’ (52%).

A recent poll of midwives found that the 3 most important factors in retaining their employment and skills within the NHS were 'recruitment of more midwives', 'more pay' and 'more woman centred policies'.

The link between recruitment and retainment cannot be ignored and a much greater number of midwives is needed to stem the exodus from the job and make recruitment meaningful.

We ask the Health Secretary to significantly increase the investment in recruitment (above and beyond the extra 3,000 that has already been promised) to fulfil the Better Births, Continuity of Carer proposal and to help retain existing, experienced midwifery staff.