Former NHS midwives will be offered “golden hellos” of £3,000 to entice them back into work, health secretary Alan Johnson has announced.
It is part of a drive to recruit an extra 4,000 midwives to the NHS over the next three years, in response to concerns about staffing levels.
The Department of Health and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) will launch a Return to Practice campaign in the summer, offering a sweetner to former midwives which will include free training, support with childcare and travel costs, along with a grant of up to £1,500.
Johnson said: “The number of births in England is rising. To keep pace with this increase and to improve the quality of care to mothers, we will recruit an additional 1,000 midwives on our wards and in our communities by 2009, rising to around 4,000 by 2012.
“Many of these extra midwives will be new to the profession, but there are also former midwives whose expertise could be brought back to the NHS, given the right support. This is why we will make up to £3,000 worth of support available to each returning midwife, providing free training and financial support while they study,” he added.
Dame Karlene Davis, general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, welcomed Johnson’s announcement. “This is a significant step on the road to delivering on Maternity Matters, the government’s blue-print for maternity services, and providing a quality service for women, their babies and families,” she said.