14/08/2014 16:55 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Maternity Unit Staff Shortages: Babies Born At Weekends At Increased Risk

Maternity unit staff shortages: Babies born at weekends at risk

Babies born at the weekend are 13 per cent more likely to come to harm because of maternity staff shortages than those born during the week, research by the National Audit Office has found.

The Daily Mail reports one in 65 babies born during a week day suffers some harm, a figure which rises to one in 60 at the weekend.

Newborns risk of infection and other complications were also found to increase, as doctors and midwives took longer to act during labour, or when deciding on medical intervention, such as a caesarean.

The paper says staff shortages leave maternity units 'in the hands of junior doctors who have to rely on calling consultants at home'.

A report from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists published in September said that a third of maternity units have no consultants at the weekends, and that just half employed their most senior staff member to work during the evening, usually only until 8pm. Three quarters of units did not have any staff working overnight at all.