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‘An ageing midwifery profession in Wales and an urgent need for more training places highlighted in RCM’s latest report’

6 February, 2017

‘An ageing midwifery profession in Wales and an urgent need for more training places highlighted in RCM’s latest report’

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Maternity services in Wales must be ‘future proofed’ now as a matter or urgency warns the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) as it launches its annual State of Maternity Services Report 2016.

Over one in three (35%) of midwives working in the NHS in Wales in March 2016 were in their fifties or sixties. In 2011, the most numerous group of midwives were those in their late forties; in 2016, it was those in their early fifties.

With more babies being born and more midwives in Wales heading towards there is an urgent need to make more training places available to newly qualified midwives.

In Wales the age profile of mothers has also changed, in 2014 there were almost a thousand more babies born to women in their early thirties, compared to 2003.

Births to women aged 40 or over rose by over 300 during the same period, passing the 1,000-mark. While births to those over thirty and above rise we are seeing fewer births to women in wales in their twenties or younger, Births to those aged under 25 fell by 1,400.

The RCM’s State of Maternity Services report is the annual look at the UK’s maternity services, bringing together information about all four UK countries. The report will officially be launched in London at the House of Commons at 9am on Tuesday the 7th February.

Commenting on the report, Helen Rogers RCM’s Director for Wales says; “The RCM is calling on the Welsh Government to futureproof our maternity services as a matter of urgency. One in every three midwives currently working in Wales are in their fifties or sixties and are heading towards retirement.

Many older midwives will, of course, be very experienced, and they are able to mentor and support newer, younger midwives. But they won’t be around in the maternity units forever. We need to ensure that there are enough new midwives being brought into the service and trained before we lose an increasing number of midwives to retirement in Wales.

While Wales has maintained a steady number of training places for student midwives over the past number of years, the number of places must be increased as matter of urgency. The RCM believes that we cannot deliver services if they remain at the current level.”

“The Welsh Government must make this their top priority if we are avoid midwife shortages like they are currently experiencing England.

The number of midwives in the NHS in Wales has risen slightly in recent years and the RCM welcomes that, but it’s quite clear from the workforce analysis conducted by Health Boards across Wales that more needs to ensure our maternity services are fit for the future.”

“Maternity units in Wales have also faced increasing challenges as the birth rate has grown steadily over the last few years. As this report reveals we are seeing an increasing number of older women giving birth which adds to the complexity of care being required. Midwives frequently find that these women need more care, attention and support because they often have more complex health needs so its vital we ensure there are enough midwives in post and being trained to deliver safe, high quality care to women and their babies in Wales.”

To contact the RCM Press Office call 020 7312 3456 or email pressofficer@rcm.org.uk.


*The RCM's State of Maternity Services Report 2016 will be LIVE and availble to view here from 22:00hrs Monday February 6th https://www.rcm.org.uk/sites/default/files/SoMS%20Report%202016_New%20Design_lowres.pdf


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 https://www.rcm.org.uk/



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