Cameron accused of breaking promise on midwives

by - 2nd February 2012, 7.30 GMT

The RCM has accused David Cameron of breaking his promise to recruit more midwives.

The Prime Minister yesterday said there are more midwives in the NHS than there were when the Coalition came to power.

His comments prompted RCM chief executive Cathy Warwick to say: “Before the last election David Cameron pledged to recruit an extra 3,000 more midwives in the NHS in England. That was music to our ears here at the Royal College of Midwives. Then, as now, the NHS was thousands of midwives short, and this was just what we wanted and needed to hear from a would-be prime minister.

“Once David Cameron was safely inside Number Ten however the pledge was dropped. The excuse was that the number of births was no longer rising. This is bizarre in the extreme given that in 2010, the latest year for which we have figures, the number of births in England was actually at its highest level for 40 years.

“Again, when challenged at Prime Minister’s Questions today he brushed aside any suggestion that his pre-election pledge should be honoured, saying there are 620 more midwives. There are more midwives, but there are also many, many more babies being born and midwife numbers are not keeping pace. Whilst it is true that the Government has maintained student midwife numbers for two years, newly qualified  midwives are not getting jobs because of trust cutbacks.

“In October last year the RCM conducted a survey of newly-qualified midwives and found that almost a third had not been able to find a job, despite there being a shortage of nearly 5,000 midwives in the UK. Out of the midwives who had managed to find a job only half were offered a permanent, full-time position.

“For too long maternity services have been denied the resources they desperately need. England is in the midst of a baby boom. David Cameron should reinstate his personal pledge for 3,000 more NHS midwives and crack on with the job of delivering them.”

* The RCM is calling for 5000 more midwives in England and has launched an E-petition. The petition can be signed here