Labour leader Ed Miliband has pledged to hire 3,000 more midwives, as part of a £2.5b investment in the NHS from 2015 onwards as a key feature of his party's manifesto for the 2015 General Election.
Speaking at the Labour Party Conference (23 Sept), Miliband said his party was "ready to govern" and would create "a health service with time to care, instead of one in which nurses are rushed off their feet".
Alongside hiring more midwives, Miliband said the investment would provide 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more family doctors and 5,000 more care home workers.
Miliband told delegates in Manchester: "We are going to have to transform the way the NHS works in the years ahead. We need doctors, nurses, care workers and midwives able to spend proper time with patients.
"If people can't get to see their GP, if they can't get the care they need, they end up in hospital [again] when that could have been avoided. That's bad for them and it costs billions of pounds.
"Those services are creaking. One in 4 people have to wait a week or more for a GP appointment. We've seen the scandal of care visits restricted to just 15 minutes for the elderly.
"We will create a preventative health service, and we won't do it by raising taxes on everyday working people. We will raise a billion pounds from tax avoidance, including by closing the tax loopholes for hedge funds, and we will raise recenue from the tobacco companies who make soaring profits on the back of ill health."
The Royal College of Midwives' third annual report, released earlier this year, outlined the pressures of an ageing workforce dealing with increasingly complex pregnancies and a buckling maternity service.
These included rising demands and higher expectations from mothers, massive shortages of midwives with 4,800 more still needed in England and concerns about the morale of an ageing midwifery workforce.
Commenting on Labour's pledge to invest in more midwives, RCM chief executive Cathy Warwick said: "This shows that Ed Miliband and his team have listened to our concerns and the evidence, and understand the value of midwives and the maternity team.
"It shows Labour understand the crucial role midwives play in ensuring the highest quality of care is available to mothers, their babies and, indeed, the whole family."