Suffolk: Around 800 new midwives are needed in East of England

IPSWICH: Nearly 800 more midwives are needed in the region to compensate for a chronic shortfall, figures revealed today.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) highlighted the shortage, despite eight new midwives being recruited at Ipswich Hospital.

The issue has been compounded by spiralling birthrates which have risen by 22 per cent since 2001.

With births hitting 73,000 in 2010, a 2pc increase on the 2009 figures, the RCM estimates around 780 more midwives are needed to ensure that mothers get safe and high quality care.

But in Suffolk at both Ipswich Hospital and the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds there are no vacancies for midwives.

An Ipswich Hospital spokeswoman said the trust in Heath Road is very lucky to be seeing a “steady increase” in the number of midwives working in the hospital.

She said: “We have recently appointed eight new midwives.

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“We are very, very fortunate in as much as we don’t have a problem recruiting and those midwives we do have are of a very high calibre.”

The national gold standard for all maternity units to aspire to is one midwife for every 30 pregnant women.

At Ipswich Hospital there are currently 1.35 midwives for every 30 patients.

The spokeswoman added: “We like all other hospitals are seeing an increase in the number of complex maternity cases as well as a rising birthrate.”

Pat Gould, the RCM regional manager for the East of England, said the shortage regionally is “deeply worrying”.

She said: “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.”

She warned the shortage, in other parts of the region, could have an impact on quality of care, the choices available including home births, and breast-feeding rates will not improve.

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