A BABY boom has pushed maternity services in the UK to a “crucial tipping point”, with midwives under intense strain and hospitals struggling to cope.
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) says there is a massive shortage of midwives after some areas of the UK has seen a 50% rise in the number of births in the last few years.
In a report published in parliament the RCM warned that an extra 5,000 midwives were needed in England alone to deal with the highest birth rate in 40 years.
It is calling on the Government to provide a guarantee not to cut midwife training places.
But a Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust spokeswoman said in response to the report: “Women in Halifax and Huddersfield areas have a full choice of birth choices thanks to the midwifery teams in our hospitals and in our communities.
“We continue to recruit midwives without difficulty.”
Each of the four parts of the UK has experienced a rise in the number of births in the last decade – 22% in England, 17% in Wales, 15% in Northern Ireland and 12% in Scotland.
Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the RCM, said: “England remains around 5,000 midwives short of the number required to provide mothers and babies with high-quality service they need and deserve.”
The State of Maternity Services report showed that in 2011 there were 688,120 babies born in England – the highest number since 1971.
Provisional birth numbers from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for the first half of last year point to 2012 being another record-breaking year for births.
The ONS forecasts that births in England could reach 743,000 by 2014.