Improving picture but still much to be done says RCM on NMC new midwife statistics

on 07 November 2018 Midwife Shortage

The Nursing and Midwifery Council has published new statistics on the number of nurses and midwives registered to work in the UK. The number of midwives registered to work in the UK continues to rise – with the last five years seeing a modest year on year increase. The statistics also show that that the number of people on the register from the EU continues to decline with 2,385 fewer nurses and midwives registered to work.

Commenting on the figures, Sean O’Sullivan, Head of Health and Social Policy at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “The rise in the number of midwives although modest is welcome as is the Government’s commitment to 3000 more midwives in England announced this summer. However, it will be many years before these are all, hopefully, working in our NHS.

“We are delighted to see more home-grown staff and to see midwives arriving to work in the UK from other countries.  But we remain concerned about the fall in the number of midwives from other EU countries. We need to give our valuable EU staff including around 1300 EU midwives across the UK, some certainty about their status. We repeat our call for the Government to guarantee them the right to stay after Brexit. We need to keep the door open for midwives from other EU countries and to address the issues that may be causing them to leave or not come here in the first place.

“England still remains still 3500 full-time midwives short of the numbers needed and pressures on services continue to increase as births become more complex. This is why we need to have systems in place to keep and bring in midwives and other staff from outside the UK.

“There is also a need to continue to focus on retaining the staff we have. We train around 2,000 midwives every year in England but the total workforce is only creeping up.

“It is an improving picture but there is still much to be done, and some areas of concern remain.”

Note to editors

The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website at