More midwives needed for 'Better births'

By Juliette Astrup on 23 March 2018 Better Births Initiative

‘We simply do not have enough midwives for the job we are trying to do.’ This is the view of Sarah-Jane Marsh, chair of the Maternity Transformation Programme, NHS England, speaking yesterday (22 March) at a seminar in London.

During her presentation on progress on implementing Better births she told delegates: ‘We have recognised that we simply do not have enough midwives for the job we are trying to do and that’s more acute particularly in some areas of the country.’

Sarah Jane, who was addressing delegates at the Westminster Health Forum Keynote Seminar, Next steps for maternity services In England, added: ‘I don’t think we’ve got sufficient midwives, I don’t think we’ve trained enough midwives. We’ve made that point and I think that it’s been accepted, and now we need to work through how we do those increases.’

She said she had been working closely with Health Education England and the secretary of state on the issue and suggested that an announcement could be made shortly.

This recognition that more midwives are needed is welcomed by the RCM, which has expressed concern over the current shortage of 3500 midwives across the UK.

Sarah-Jane also covered a number of other updates on the transformation progress. She said an announcement would be made shortly that the 10,000 target Personal Maternity Care Budgets had been achieved.

She also spoke about the need to ‘get stuck in to continuity of carer’ following the ambition published earlier this year by NHS England and NHS Improvement that 20% of women should be booked onto a continuity pathway in March 2019.

‘It’s very ambitious and it’s making me feel nervous, it’s probably making you feel nervous, but we’ve got to start somewhere, and I think some areas will be able to deliver that,’ she adds.

Her message was one of positivity and progress about a process, which she said: ‘feels like a once-in-a-generation opportunity to really transform maternity services.’

But she in order for it to succeed it needed to ‘ignite the passion of everybody in the workforce.’

She added: ‘I really feel we are making huge progress and in a couple of years’ time we will see genuine transformation right across the country in our maternity care.’