The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has given a cautious welcome to figures released by NHS England showing an increase in the number of midwives working in the NHS.
Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the RCM, said: “We know that services up and down the country are really struggling with staffing levels, so it’s great to see the numbers moving in the right direction. We have to remember, though, that this isn’t about numbers, it’s about people. It’s about midwives providing care to women and families.
"If, as a country, we truly aspire to being the safest place in the world to be pregnant and give birth, we have to invest in the midwifery workforce. Recruitment is important, but we really need to focus on retaining the skilled, experienced staff. Not only will that support the next generation of midwives, it will ensure that women and families get the quality care they need.”
According to NHS England, the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) midwives employed across NHS hospital trusts and other core organisations in England rose by around five per cent in the year from November 2022. That equates to 23,396 FTE midwives.
Gill added: “We often talk about a leaky bucket – you can pour in as much as you like from the top, but if you’re losing water from the bottom, little will change. That’s why plugging that hole with a renewed focus on retention is absolutely vital.”