Many of England's regions are facing serious midwife shortages, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has claimed.

Following the release of birth rate figures last month, the RCM claims a further 4,700 midwives are needed across England. The South East was the region with the most serious shortage, totalling 1,015 places in all.

London needs a further 862 midwives, the East of England 780 and the East Midlands 600. The North East was least affected with only 91 vacancies.

The findings follow on from research carried out by Labour that found student midwife placements were also being reduced.

Cathy Warwick, general secretary of the RCM, said: "This is not just a paper exercise to prove a point. These figures represent real and serious shortages in our maternity services. Each single number is a midwife that should be there caring for women and their babies, but isn't.

"It is also not just about numbers. Births are also becoming increasingly complex needing more of midwives' time. The combination of this and the rising birthrate is a dangerous cocktail threatening the safety and quality of maternity care.

"It means that too many maternity units across England are under-staffed and under-resourced to meet the demands made of them. It leaves me feeling deeply frustrated that we are not seeing any action from this Government to remedy this."

 regional midwife shortages