Today The Royal College of Midwives has published its State of Maternity Services 2013 report. The report highlights the latest statistics on NHS maternity services for each part of the UK and provides a snapshot of today’s maternity care.
According to the report, the number of births in England continued to rise in 2012, reaching its highest number (694,241) since 1971. In Scotland, births fell for the fourth year in a row, although remained 10 per cent higher than in 2001. In both Wales and Northern Ireland the number of births fell in 2012 for the second year in a row, but in both cases the number remained 15 per cent higher than it had been in 2001.
The report underlines that the effect of this increased birth rate is multiplied by the growing complexity of pregnancies, including increased maternal age and maternal obesity. It also estimates that the shortage of midwives in the NHS in England in 2012 is around 4,800.
Commenting on the report, Dr David Richmond, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) said:
“This report highlights the increased pressure maternity services are facing in the UK today.
“We have known for some time that both more midwives and consultants are needed to deal with the rapidly increasing birth rate coupled with the rise in complex pregnancies, with older mothers, maternal obesity and multiple pregnancies at the fore. This was again confirmed in the recent National Audit Office (NAO) Maternity Services in England report stating that optimal staffing levels for better and safer maternity care are still not being met.”
“Although there has been some progress in moving towards recommended consultant presence in delivery units there is still an enormous gap especially in the larger units delivering more than 5000 births. We still need more consultants if we are to provide the care we recommend along with a substantial increase in midwifery numbers to again match recommendations and ensure women at any time of day or night are receiving the best possible care.”
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