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Midwifery training numbers to rise by 25%

3,000 more midwives to be trained over next four years

Adrian O'Dowd

Monday, 26 March 2018

The government is to announce a boost to midwifery staffing with plans to train 3,000 more midwives in England over the next four years.

Health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt will formally announce the news tomorrow, but it has already been welcomed by the Royal College of Midwives which says it is a step towards badly needed improvements for the midwifery workforce.

The government’s new measures for England’s maternity workforce include:

  • an increase in NHS midwives and maternity support staff, with a plan to train more than 3,000 extra midwives over four years, starting with 650 more midwives in training next year
  • a new defined maternity support worker role and introduction of new training routes into midwifery
  • ensuring most women receive care from the same midwives throughout their pregnancy, labour and birth by 2021.
Speaking at an event tomorrow, Mr Hunt is expected to say: “There are few moments in life that matter more than the birth of a child, so the next step in my mission to transform safety standards is a drive to give mums dedicated midwives, who can get to know them personally and oversee their whole journey from pregnancy to labour to new parent.
“The statistics are clear that having a dedicated team of midwives who know you and understand your story can transform results for mothers and babies - reducing stillbirths, miscarriages and neonatal deaths, and the agony that comes with these tragedies.
“This profound change will be backed up by the largest ever investment in midwifery training, with a 25% expansion in the number of training places, as well as an incredibly well-deserved pay rise for current midwives.”
The measures come just days after it was announced that midwives are being given a pay rise of between 6.5% and 29%, as well as a boost to the starting salary to make midwifery a more attractive profession.
Gill Walton, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), said: “This is a very long overdue acknowledgement by the government that England’s maternity services need more midwives.
“This announcement must be welcomed. It will come as some relief to NHS midwives who have been working incredibly hard, for many years, with increasing demands and inadequate resources.
“This is the start of a journey that will enable midwives to begin moving to more innovative ways of caring for women. It is also a positive step towards safer services.”
The commitment to more continuity of care was also good news, she added, because there was clear evidence that this was the best way to provide the safest and highest quality care for women and their babies.
“Whilst we welcome the commitment to continuity of care, it is ambitious,” she said. “The additional midwives who start training next year won't be qualified midwives working in our maternity services until 2022.
“That will make a difference and it will begin to have an impact on the workload of midwives, but it will not transform maternity services right now. It will take seven or eight years before all of the new midwives announced today will be actually working in our maternity services.”

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