Midwifery course applications down
There has been a 35% drop in the number of applicants for midwifery courses since 2013, according to the RCM.
Having analysed the latest UCAS data on applications to midwifery courses in England, the RCM has found that the biggest drop in the number midwifery applicants since 2013 has come from those aged 21 or over.
In 2013, over 12,000 people aged over 21 applied for a midwifery course in England. By 2017 that figures was only 6700, a decrease of 45%.
RCM professional policy advisor Gabrielle Bourke said: ‘We are not entirely surprised by these figures as the RCM has previously raised concerns about how less attractive midwifery as a profession was becoming, particularly since the midwifery bursary was abolished and tuition fees were introduced in August 2017.
‘This coupled with already younger midwives leaving the profession due to workforce pressures, such as understaffing causing burnout in addition to seven years of NHS pay restraint, have certainly been factors that have deterred students from applying for midwifery courses in England.
‘It’s disappointing to see the drop in applications from those aged 21 and older. We know that many of those who have previously chosen careers in midwifery have been older students, often women with children inspired by the care they received while pregnant choosing to become midwife.
‘Also, currently a large proportion of the midwifery student base hold other degrees or educational qualifications relevant to healthcare and these are the type of people the NHS so badly needs – we should be doing everything we can to attract and retain the brightest and best students to midwifery.’
Gabrielle added that the RCM welcomes the recent announcement by the secretary of state Jeremy Hunt to increase the number of NHS midwives by more than 3000 midwives over the next four years. And the organisation looks forward to working/supporting the government to make this announcement a reality of more midwives working in England.
However, Gabrielle highlighted that at present in England there still remains a shortage of 3500 midwives for what is needed to deliver safe, high-quality care to women and their families: ‘For now we need urgent measures to ensure that we will have enough students willing to become midwives so this vision can be achieved,’ she said.