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Former midwife: Shortage of midwives 'so obvious'

The shortage of NHS midwives is "so obvious" to anyone working in the NHS, leaving working staff with low morale and "worn out" from the job, a former midwife has told Daybreak.

Nora Pearce said maternity staff "have been promised that there will be more" but extra midwives always failed to appear.

Read: MPs criticise NHS and Govt over maternity care

High quality maternity care 'suffering' from lack of staff

Maternity services in the UK are under strain due to a lack of trained and experienced staff need to provide "safe, high quality care", the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) have said.

Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the RCM backed up a report from MPs which blasted the NHS and Government for a 2,300 void in the number of trained midwives.

Maternity services are many thousands of midwives short of the number needed to deliver safe, high quality care.

The birthrate remains exceptionally high and as this and the National Audit Office report states, births are also becoming increasingly complex.

This puts even more demands on midwives and maternity services.

We are seeing areas such as antenatal and postnatal care in particular suffering because trusts often do not have enough midwives to provide consistent and high quality care before and after pregnancy.

– Cathy Warwick

Read: Compensation for botched maternity care 'too high'

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Compensation for botched maternity care 'too high'

Compensation paid to new mothers for problems during childbirth is "too high", an influential group of MPs said.

In a damning report into maternity care in the NHS, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) found maternity cases accounted "for a third of total clinical negligence payments".

The most common reasons for maternity claims have been mistakes in the management of labour and relating to Caesarean sections, and errors resulting in cerebral palsy.

The clinical negligence bill for maternity services is too high.

Maternity cases account for a third of total clinical negligence payments and the number of maternity claims has risen by 80% over the last five years.

Some £480 million, nearly a fifth of trusts' spending on maternity services, is for clinical negligence cover, equivalent to £700 per birth.

– Public Accounts Committee report into NHS maternity

Read: MPs criticise NHS and Govt over maternity care

MPs criticise NHS and Government over maternity care

An influential group of MPs has hit out at the Government and NHS for the lack of funding and expertise on maternity units.

Read: Fears new mothers are being 'left alone' during labour

Baby
Mother and baby's safety is put at risk by lack of funding and inexperienced midwives, MPs said. Credit: PA

Read: Midwifery investigation uncovers catalogue of failures

The Public Accounts Committee found there was a national shortage of 2,300 midwives and said many maternity units were "running at a loss".

PAC said it was hard to find anyone accountable for "ensuring something as fundamental" as whether the NHS has enough midwives, in a scathing report in maternity care.

The committee reported rates of infection among new mothers and the baby as well as injury to the newborn "are all higher at the weekend".

It added: "Although there have been substantial improvements in levels of consultant presence on labour wards in recent years, over half of obstetric units were still not meeting the levels recommended by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists at September 2012."

Read: £700 'to insure each NHS birth'

Survey: New mothers feel ‘bullied’ into breastfeeding

New mothers often feel "bullied" into breastfeeding, a survey into maternity care found.

The survey by the Care Quality Commission said 41% of women felt "inadequately supported" when feeding their new baby and that the pressure to breastfeed made them feel isolated and guilty.

A newborn baby Credit: REUTERS/Nicky Loh

One new mother said the feeding issue was "the most upsetting part" of her care.

"Midwives and health visitors make you feel bullied into breastfeeding… I was desperate to breastfeed during my pregnancy, and I was devastated when I couldn't, but the comments and the way you are made to feel guilty is totally unacceptable,” the woman said.

Midwifery council: 'NHS fails too many women'

The Royal Council of Midwifery said the "NHS continues to fail too many women," who are not able to see the same midwife during and after their pregnancy.

A survey by the health regulator, the CQC, found only 28% of women can rely on the care of the same midwife over the course of their pregnancy.

It is sad to see that in three years the NHS has not improved in terms of women seeing the same midwife during their care, which often means women have to repeat their histories over and over again.

– Cathy Warwick, the Royal College of Midwives’ chief executive

Ms Warwick said this is due to the shortage of qualified midwives.

"The RCM’s latest estimate is that the NHS in England is short of 4,800 midwives, so it is sadly inevitable that women will see many different midwives," she said.

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Health watchdog names 'worsening' maternity services

The health regulator, the Care Quality Commission, has named maternity care trusts that it said provide worse care than they did during the last survey in 2010.

They are:

  • Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHSTrust
  • Barts Health NHS Trust
  • Croydon Health Services NHS Trust
  • Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Lewisham Health Care NHS Trust
  • North West London Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust

Survey: Almost 80% of women 'trust maternity staff'

Here are some of the key findings of a major survey by the Care Quality Commission of women's experiences of maternity services:

  • A quarter said they were left alone at a time that worried them during labour and birth (up from 22 percent in 2010)
  • Almost one in five said their concerns were not taken seriously
  • 77 percent felt they were always involved in decisions about their care (up from 74 percent in 2010)
  • 71 percent were able to move around and find a position that made them most comfortable during labour and birth
  • 78 percent said they definitely had confidence and trust in the staff caring for them during labour and birth (up from 73 percent in 2010)

Survey: Quarter of new mothers 'left alone' during labour

Survey: Quarter of new mothers 'left alone' during labour

A quarter of new mothers surveyed in England say they were left alone at a time that worried them during labour and birth, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has found.

The survey asked 23,000 new mothers in England about their experience of maternity services
The survey asked 23,000 new mothers in England about their experience of maternity services Credit: Katie Collins/PA Wire

The survey of some 23,000 women, who gave birth in February, revealed an overall improvement in maternity services, but also some areas for improvement.

A higher proportion of women than in 2010 felt they were involved in decisions about their care and that they were able to find a comfortable position during labour and birth.

But concerns were raised about the support given during labour and birth, the cleanliness of wards and about seeing different midwives before and after the birth.

Deputy PM: Mothers 'feel shoved aside at work'

Women with children often feel "shoved aside" in the workplace, said Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg as he called for dramatic changes to business practices, to better accommodate family life.

Mothers often feel 'shoved aside' in the workplace because they have had children, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has warned. Credit: PA

"It is sadly still far too common for women to feel shoved aside at work because they've decided to have children," the Liberal Democrat leader said. "Aside from the obvious unfairness, it's also bad for our economy, which means everybody ends up losing out."

Next year will see the introduction of shared parental leave to "ensure career options remain open to women after pregnancy," he added.

Mr Clegg's comments came as a Mumsnet survey showed 75% of women who returned to work after having a child thought it made it harder to progress in their career.

Read: Baby blues: Mothers describe workplace discrimination

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