Birth figures for 2011 released this week by the Office for National Statistics reveal that England's historic baby boom is continuing.

The Royal College of Midwives' Deputy General Secretary Louise Silverton said: "There were 688,120 live births in England last year, up over 124,000 since the start of the baby boom in 2001. Over the last decade, the number of births in the country is up by over 22%. Over the same period, however, the number of midwives has risen by less than 17%, which has compounded a shortage of midwives that already existed in 2001.

"Whilst there has been a modest rise in the number of midwives under the Coalition, the number of births has been rising steeply, as these statistics prove, and these are more complicated births, requiring more intensive care and support from midwives. However, we know many women are not currently getting one-to-one midwifery care in labour or choice of place of birth. We also know many women do not always get the best care at the vital time after the birth of their baby, especially once they go home.

"The Government know there is a problem and a dire shortage of midwives, and are committed to training more midwives, but what is needed are more midwifery jobs. It is pointless training more midwives if they cannot get employment. The RCM has been saying for a long time that without real and sustained investment in midwives, change is hard to achieve. The RCM's view is that in order to deliver high-quality maternity care for mothers and babies proposed by the Government we need 5,000 more midwives."

Posted 11/07/2012 by penny.hosie@pavpub.com