Midwife protests set for East over maternity care 'crisis' they say puts pregnant women at risk

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Midwives across the region will protest this weekend over what they have described as a maternity care crisis.

Campaigners from March With Midwives say pregnant women are being put at risk because of a lack of staff.

Demonstrations will be held at 2pm on Sunday in towns and cities with maternity hospitals including Norwich, Cambridge, Ipswich, Chelmsford, Bedford, Stevenage and Milton Keynes.

Campaigners from March with Midwives say pregnant women are being put at risk. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Organiser of the Ipswich demonstration, Hannah Bridges, said she realised how bad things had got after returning to work from maternity leave.

“I was a full-time member of staff, but after coming back from being on maternity leave I just found the demands being put on us were too much," she said.

“We weren’t getting breaks because there aren’t enough staff and you can’t leave a woman alone who’s in labour.

“We weren’t able to give the level of care I was satisfied with. 

“The role of a midwife has changed. There’s been a big increase in the amount of paperwork and also there aren’t many options for flexible working.

“The system is not fit for purpose. Midwives are leaving the profession and newly qualified midwives aren’t getting the support they need.

“We want to raise awareness not just about what’s happening but also how much midwives are doing to overcome these issues.”

The Royal College of Midwives estimates the UK is short of 3.500 midwives. They say a newly qualified midwife will earn £24,907 a year.

A Royal College of Midwives survey found:

  • 60% of UK midwives are considering leaving the profession

  • 57% said they planned to leave the NHS in the next year

  • 80% of those planning to leave cited inadequate staffing levels

  • 67% said they were unhappy with the quality and safety of care they are currently able to deliver

Demonstrations are being held in towns and cities with maternity units at 2pm on Sunday. Credit: ITV News Anglia

A spokesperson from the Rosie Maternity Hospital in Cambridge said: “We would like to reassure patients that their care and safety is our top priority and that our dedicated staff at the Rosie Hospital are committed to ensuring the best possible birthing experience.

"As with many other maternity units, we are actively recruiting midwives to fill staff vacancies.

"We would urge women to continue to access our services and to contact us if they have any concerns.”

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A spokesperson from the Department for Health and Social Care said: "We are committed to patient safety, eradicating avoidable harms and making the NHS the safest place in the world to give birth.

"Midwives do an incredibly important job and we know how challenging it has been for those working during the pandemic. There are more midwives working in the NHS now than at any other time in its history and we are aiming to hire 1,200 more with a £95 million recruitment drive.

"The mental health and wellbeing of staff remains a key priority and the NHS continues to offer a broad range of support including through dedicated helplines and mental health and wellbeing hubs."