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‘More midwives’ says health minister

Posted: 13 November 2012 by Rob Dabrowski

Health minister Dr Dan Poulter has said it is his priority to ensure more qualified midwives are in work over the coming years.

Health minister Dan Poulter and Cathy Warwick at RCM conference
Health minister Dr Dan Poulter has said it is his priority to ensure more qualified midwives are in work over the coming years.

Speaking at the RCM annual conference in Brighton this morning (13 November) he made the vow.

He said that his previous job as a doctor had informed his views, after he experienced the shortage of midwives firsthand.

‘Almost every unit that I worked in when I was a doctor had a shortage of midwives, which I thought was completely unacceptable,’ he said.

‘There’s a clear commitment to make sure that the work we do means there are more midwives in the future. That’s something I plan to make sure we deliver.  

‘Maternity services are my priority over the next two years ahead. We are committed to ensuring that we’ve got the right number of trained midwives in work.

‘We need to make sure that we have more midwives in the system, we must have more midwives working.’

After his speech there was a Q&A session, where Dr Poulter was asked about the government’s policy on the South West pay cartel.

He stressed that the government did not endorse the cartel but, under employment law, trusts had the right to set their own pay levels.

He went on to criticise the cartel and said its actions were ‘heavy-handed’ but said the government has been working to get the trusts around the table with colleges and unions.

His speech came after Cathy Warwick, RCM chief executive, gave the conference’s opening address.

She said that taxpayers’ money will be going down the drain if midwives aren’t given jobs after training.

‘What I hear, time and time again, as I speak to new midwives is that many of them aren’t getting jobs,’ she said.

She said the situation was in sharp contrast to two years ago, when most qualified midwives found jobs.

‘Now the RCM believes that talent, hard work and taxpayers’ money is in danger of being wasted,’ she continued. ‘And it’s not because we don’t need these newly qualified midwives.’

She also spoke about the continuing rise in birthrate and the ageing current of the midwifery workforce.

She said: ‘The RCM appreciates that we do have more midwives but would still argue that the NHS in England is short of 5000 full time midwives. We simply must match the midwives in training with jobs.’
She said that the fact 5000 midwives in training is ‘superb’ news, but it would be ‘much better would be 5000 more actual midwives’.