More than 75,000 people sign the Royal College of Midwives' epetition for 5,000 More Midwives

Published on Wednesday, 22 August 2012 11:36
Written by Scott Buckler

More than 75,000 people have signed the Royal College of Midwives' epetition for 5,000 more midwives and have called on the Government to take action to recruit more midwives

The petition closed today and although it did not receive the 100,000 signatures needed to secure a parliamentary debate, it did galvanise public opinion and show that more than 75,000 people are calling on the Government to take action to recruit more midwives.

The petition has also attracted support from MPs from all three main political parties.

North East Labour MP Grahame Morris, a member of the House of Commons Health Select Committee, said: "The shortage of midwives affects every region in England. We need urgent action from Government, which includes honouring their commitment to recruit the equivalent of 5000 more full-time midwives. Care for women but especially for babies at the very start of life should be a top priority for NHS resources rather than expanding specialist fee paying services overseas."

Henry Smith, Conservative MP for Crawley, said: "The fact that so many people have signed this petition to protect maternity services underlines just how vitally important this issue is. I am happy to say here and now that I will continue to raise the issue of midwife numbers in Parliament."

Andrew George, Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives, said: "Inadequate staff-to- patient ratios puts patient safety at risk, not least in midwifery where good quality maternity care is paramount. That so many people have registered their support for the campaign to make sure that we have safe levels of clinically qualified midwives in our hospitals and in the community speaks volumes."

Once parliament has returned from its recess, the RCM will be working with MPs to secure a debate about the shortage of midwives, despite not receiving 100,000 signatures needed for a debate with a vote.

RCM General Secretary and CEO Cathy Warwick said: "We are delighted that more than 75,000 people are calling on the Government to take action to recruit more midwives and this huge groundswell of public support reflects how much people value maternity services, mothers, babies and midwives. This support means so much to our members and reflects the public consensus that we need more midwives."

"In order to deliver the high-quality maternity care for mothers and babies proposed by the Government, we need 5,000 more midwives and the public have shown that they support this argument."

Apart from MPs, many celebrities and maternity care stakeholders have also signed and supported the petition, including England and Arsenal football Theo Walcott, his mother Lynn, a retired midwife, the artist Sam Taylor Johnson, and the actors Pam Ferris, Stephen McGann and Terri Dwyer. It was also supported by the Patients Association, NCT,and the charity Baby Lifeline.

Recent statistics showed that there were 688,120 live births in England last year, up over 124,000 since the start of the baby boom in 2001. Over the last decade, the number of births in the country is up by over 22 per cent. Over the same period, however, the number of midwives has risen by less than 17 per cent, compounding a shortage of midwives that already existed in 2001.

Source: ©RCM

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