Midwives in the North West say staff shortages are leading to a profession 'in crisis'

Video report by ITV News Reporter Sarah Rogers

A midwife from Manchester has spoken of 'a profession in crisis' and says staffing shortages could be putting babies' lives at risk.

Charlotte Gill had her baby son Murphy 16 months ago and said it was a positve experience. But as someone who works on maternity wards herself, she has warned the caring profession is becoming dangerous because of the pressures on staff.

She says staff are at 'burn out and overstretched' and that has left them at breaking point.

Campaigners say staff shortages began before the pandemic. A recent survey from the Royal College of Midwives 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

If midwives are overstretched there are worries maternity units could become critically unsafe.

Benash  Nazmeen from the Association of South Asian Midwives said,

'We are at a crisis point, mothers need and deserve to have well rested midwives caring for them.'

That's why midwives are taking to the streets in protest, with a simple message, calling for more staff to provide the care patients' deserve.

On Sunday, Charlotte Gill will join other midwives across the North West in calling on the UK government to implement ''urgent crisis management and resources.''

Demonstrations will be held at 2pm in towns and cities with maternity hospitals across the UK including, Manchester, Liverpool, Burnley and Crewe.

  • A map showing the locations of the protests taking place on Sunday

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."

Some new mums at the Bumps and Babies Class run by the National Childbirth Trust in Lancashire described their experiences.

One said it was 'traumatic' and she was just grateful for the midwives at the Royal Preston Hospital'.

Another said her midwife hadn't eaten for 'ten hours' but said she wasn't leaving her side and were dedicated.

A new mum who was Covid Positive said her experience 'wasn't great', the midwives were meant to come every hour, but it was sometimes 5 or 6 hours at a time because they had half a dozen other mums to look after on the ward.

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

Commenting, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) Executive Director for External Relations, Jon Skewes said:

"For years, maternity services have been operating with too few staff and inadequate resources. NHS Trusts and Boards have relied on the goodwill of staff, and their genuine love of what they do, to maintain services - but staff are reaching the end of their tether.

''Last month, we published a survey that showed that 57% of midwives are looking to leave - and the biggest group among them are those who have only been working for five years or less.

''The UK and national governments have to do more, not only to train and recruit new midwives into the NHS, but to retain the ones we have. Staff are frankly exhausted, many feel like they have nothing left to give - and services are suffering as a result.

''We're grateful to March with Midwives for highlighting the work we have been doing to get politicians and policy makers to pay attention to this untenable situation."