A new survey by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has found that the safety of maternity services is under serious threat.
The survey found that eight out of 10 midwives (83%) do not believe their NHS Trust or Board has enough staff to operate a safe service, with 42% reporting that half of shifts are understaffed, and a third saying there are significant gaps in most shifts.
The RCM says these shortages are taking their toll on midwives and maternity support workers, with morale at rock-bottom. Seven out of 10 (71%) have considered leaving the profession, while over a third (38%) are seriously thinking about it.
Commenting on the findings of the survey, Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:
"This survey provides a deeply concerning snapshot of how maternity services are coping in the midst of a second wave of the pandemic.
"Stretched and understaffed maternity services affect the quality and safety of care provided to mothers and babies, and restricts the choices available to women. While the numbers of midwives were already lacking ahead of the pandemic, COVID-19 has intensified the pressure. In the first wave, maternity staff were redeployed to other areas of the hospital - something that cannot and must not happen during this wave.
"We support the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) call for maternity services to be funded properly, giving staff the resources and support they need to continue providing safe and personalised care to women and families. At a time when midwives should feel supported and valued for the vital work they do, they’re feeling demoralised and undervalued."