‘Modest’ increase in midwife numbers, says NMC

By Julie Griffiths on 07 November 2018 Brexit NMC - Nursing and Midwifery Council

The number of midwives registered to work in the UK continues to rise with a modest year on year increase in the last five years, NMC figures show. 

In the past 12 months there has been an increase of almost 4000 midwives and nurses registered to work in the UK, and at the end of September there were 693,618 midwives and nurses on the UK register – the highest September level in recent years.  

The NMC says the increase has been driven by a rise in UK-trained midwives and nurses and those trained outside the EU. 

The number of people trained in the UK and registered to work has increased by 3457 over the last twelve months. From outside the EU numbers have increased by 2808.

The statistics also show that that the number of people on the register from the EU continues to decline with 2385 fewer midwives and nurses registered to work. However, the overall number of EU registrants remains above pre-2015 levels.

RCM head of health and social policy Sean O’Sullivan 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.’ 
Sean highlighted that England still remains 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,’ he said.

He added that there is also a need to continue to focus on retaining current staff: ‘We train around 2000 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.’