12/11/2012 13:16 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Baby Boom As NHS Maternity Services Cut, Warns Royal College Of Midwives

Royal Colledge of Midwives warns NHS resources will be stretched because of baby boom PA

The Royal College of Midwives is warning that the biggest baby boom in 40 years is going to put a huge strain on maternity resources within the NHS.

The RCM says an estimated 700,000 babies are expected to be born in England next year – the highest number since 1971 - and that increases are also expected in Scotland and Wales.

In England this could cause huge problems to the NHS because of the shortage of midwives - the RCM says England needs 5000 more, while Wales is short to the tune of 150. Scotland and Northern Ireland are currently at capacity, but the advancing age of their workforce means they have to constantly recruit.

Figures released for the first quarter of this year revealed that 4600 more babies were born in England during January to March than in the same period for 2011.

The chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, Cathy Warwick, said the boom is 'restarting with renewed vigour'.

"We are already at birth numbers that haven't been seen for at least a couple of generations, probably not in the working life of any midwife practising today," she said.

"Today's midwives simply have never seen anything like it. The demand this is placing on the NHS is enormous."

Research undertaken by the 2012 Income Data Services survey of midwives across the UK discovered that 19 out of every 20 midwives had experienced staff shortages 'frequently' or 'sometimes' in the past 12 months, and 87 per cent of midwives said they 'frequently' or 'always' worked more than their contracted hours.

Cathy Warwick said it was 'frustrating' that there is a 'clear need for more midwives'.

Ms Warwick said: "NHS maternity services, especially in England, are on a knife-edge.

She said: "We have carried shortages for years, but with the number of births going up and up and up. I really believe we are at the limit of what maternity services can safely deliver."

Student midwife numbers are also being cut and student bursaries for midwives are being cut by £890 in Northern Ireland.

Newly-qualified midwives are struggling to find jobs and a third of new midwives are unemployed.

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