birthHalf of English regions have cut their spending on maternity services despite the on-going baby boom according to new figures from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).

The figures unveiled on the second day of the RCM’s Annual Conference in Telford also show that only one English region meets the recommended minimum staffing level for midwives.

MP Andrew George found that five of the English regions cut spending on maternity services in 2012-13 with East Midlands suffering a 15% drop in spending over the previous year.

London saw a 6% fall and Yorkshire & Humber, the North East and South West also had small spending cuts. This confirms the findings of an RCM survey released in September showing that almost a fifth of senior midwives said their budget had been cut in the previous twelve months.

Unprecedented demands on midwives
RCM chief executive Cathy Warwick said: "There is not one midwife practising today who has seen this level of births and demands on maternity services. I am constantly meeting midwives and far too often they are telling me of the unprecedented demands on their time and their struggle to deliver the safe, high quality care they aspire to.

"Health bosses are cutting spending blindly and we have yet to see the impact of this on staff numbers and on the care women are receiving. We recognise many regions are working hard to improve maternity services but these figures show there is still much to do."

However, the South East Coast did see an increase in spending at 7%, as did East of England and South Central with 4% rises.

The RCM recommends that midwifery staffing levels are based on Birthrate Plus, which suggests that maternity services should be aiming to have as a minimum 1 midwife to 28 births per year. The current average for England is 33.2.

In the September survey of senior midwives over a third (34.4%) said the amount of money they have for staff is not enough to ensure they have the recommended, minimum level of staff to meet the demands on their maternity service. This is even more marked as births in England remain at a 40 year high with the last decade alone seeing a 23% increase in births.