30 European midwives to join hospitals in bid to fill maternity shortfall

Ipswich Hospital will not be able to store the vaccine at first, as it needs special refrigerators t

ESNEFT, which manages Ipswich and Colchester hospitals, is appointing more midwives - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

A total of 30 midwives are to arrive from Europe to work at Ipswich and Colchester hospitals after concerns were raised about staffing levels in maternity services.

East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) was inspected by the watchdog, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), in March and April over the claims after reportedly being tipped off by a whistleblower.

Nick Hulme, chief executive of ESNEFT, admitted on BBC Radio Suffolk that recent reports had identified issues with the number of midwives - but said there were no concerns about the quality of care delivered.

Nick Hulme offered his condolences to the families of the seven people who died at Ipswich and Colch

ESNEFT chief executive Nick Hulme said the maternity unit was facing challenges - Credit: Archant

He also revealed ESNEFT's board had approved £1.4million of additional funding to fund the recruitment of more midwives.

The findings of the CQC's inspection of the trust, which was unannounced, are due to be published in a report later this month.

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ESNEFT is also due to consider the findings of the Ockenden report - a review of the trust's maternity services - at an upcoming board meeting due to be held in public.

Giles Thorpe, chief nurse at the trust, said the shortage of midwives and other maternity staff was a nationwide issue and not specific to Suffolk and Essex.

Giles Thorpe, chief nurse at ESNEFT

Giles Thorpe, chief nurse at ESNEFT - Credit: ESNEFT

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But he revealed that ESNEFT had been selected as one of two trusts to be part of a pilot scheme that will see 30 European midwives recruited to fill the shortfall over the summer.

The first of the new healthcare workers will start work at the trust next month.

Mr Thorpe said: "There is a nationwide shortage of midwives and maternity support staff, and like many maternity services across the country, we do have vacancies for midwives and maternity staff in our trust.

"Our first priority is to make sure we provide safe maternity care for our community and we are doing this.

"We are very pleased to have been chosen as one of only two NHS trusts to pilot an international midwife scheme which will mean that we will be able to recruit 10 additional midwives a month beginning at the end of this month.

"The 30 European midwives will begin work with us from the autumn."

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