A dangerous shortage of midwives in the UK could lead to an increase in the number of medical negligence claims, claims a partner at Irwin Mitchell.
Medical negligence solicitor, Mandy Luckman, said it is imperative that the NHS and the coalition does everything possible to address the midwife shortage that affects many areas of the UK.
The English birth rate has increased 22% over the past twenty years but midwife numbers have not risen at a comparable rate. The RCM says that an additional 4,700 midwives are needed in England to cope with additional pressures, such as the growing numbers of older women who are giving birth.
Whilst the North West and North East of the country are less than 10% understaffed, the East of England and the East Midlands need 41% extra midwives. The South East of England also needs at least 33% more. The problem only seems to occur in England. Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are not witnessing midwife shortages at present.
According to the RCM, a maternity unit seeing 3,000 births per year needs about 91 midwives. We are now seeing more complex births and these take up more of a midwife’s time. Coupled with a rising birth rate, the lack of qualified professionals is threatening maternity care. Many maternity units are under-staffed and this could lead to more mothers filing claims for personal injury compensation.
The Department of Health is trying to address the problem and 2,490 midwifery training places are planned for this year. A spokesperson for the DoH also said that 94% of women were happy with the maternity care they received last year.