"We still need over 4,000 extra midwives in the NHS in England," says Cathy Warwick in response to new NHS staff number figures for England published by the NHS Information Centre.

Warwick, the general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, added: "This small increase in midwife numbers is welcome, but it is not enough.

"What we are seeing is the tail-end of the previous government's policies to increase the number of midwives. My fear is that this may be a peak in numbers before the inevitable slide downwards as the financial pressures on the NHS start to bite.

"It is also clear when you look at the figures that the major part of the increase is driven by rising numbers in London. Other areas of the country are seeing tiny increases or even a fall.

"We are pleased that the government is protecting student midwife training places in the next year. However, I am concerned that these may not translate into jobs in the NHS.

"The RCM still believes that thousands more midwives are needed to cope with the historically high birthrate and the increasing complexity of births; all of which is putting pressure on maternity services and demanding more of midwives' time.

"This is why the RCM is marching with other public sector unions this Saturday in London to protest at cuts to public services."

Posted by Penny Hosie on 22.3.11 Comment on this article by sending it to: penny.hosie@pavpub.com