Midwives are struggling to deal with the UK’s rising population, and more than half have considered resigning, a survey has found.
The UK-wide poll, conducted by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), found that almost one third (31%) of midwives had seen their workloads increase, while the vast majority (91%) said the birthrate had risen in their maternity unit in the past 12 months.
Three quarters of the 2,489 midwives surveyed were working up to 10 extra hours a week, but 41% said they received no compensation in either time off or pay. These factors had forced 61% of midwives to reconsider their career choice, the RCM said.
Dame Karlene Davis, general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “Midwives’ pay is not keeping pace with prices, staff numbers are not keeping pace with the birthrate, and investment is not keeping pace with the demands on the service.
“The maternity care services for all women could, and should, be so much better. We acknowledge that most women are happy with the service they get, but too many are unsatisfied and frustrated,” she added.
Births in the UK are up 16% from 2002, due partly to immigration and the increase in the numbers of younger women becoming pregnant.
The largest survey by the RCM in five years showed that a ‘retirement time-bomb’ is imminent, with nearly half of midwives set to retire within 10 years. It estimates that at least 5,000 more midwives are needed to make the government’s maternity plans achievable.