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Case study: Workforce numbers and national standards

A review, commissioned by a Trust with concerns about staffing levels, looked at the medical and midwifery workforce numbers in the context of national standards.

We undertook a review of the workforce plan, consultant job plans and the staffing establishment for trainees and non-consultant career grade doctors. The assessors were encouraged that staff at all levels appeared highly motivated, proud of their service and accepting of the need for change.

However, the review confirmed that there was a shortfall in the number of consultant obstetricians to meet the national standards for consultant cover on labour ward. Midwifery staffing levels were unanimously cited as the main concern, which was compounded by high staff sickness rates and problems with recruitment and retention of midwifery staff.


Improvement actions recommended by the assessors included:

  • An immediate increase in consultant obstetrician numbers to allow for improved service delivery, training, good governance and the ability to plan the future direction of the service
  • Support greater collaboration amongst relevant staff to ensure the midwifery and support workforce is optimally deployed to provide safe staffing of core clinical areas at all times
  • Undertake and complete a Birthrate plus® exercise and implement the recommendations for midwifery staffing

Elsewhere on the site

Audit & quality improvement
Find out about the College’s national audits and other projects aimed at improving the quality of women’s health services
Guidance for commissioners
Resources to support commissioners and health service managers with responsibility for commissioning high-quality women’s health care