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Number of East Lancashire midwives is a ‘concern’
MORE midwives are needed in East Lancashire, according to experts at the Royal College of Midwifery.
Currently, 259 midwives are employed by The East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (ELHT), which runs maternity services at the Royal Blackburn Hospital , Burnley General, and newborn centres in Blackburn, Burnley and Rossendale.
The ratio of midwives to births is 1:31.8, against a RCM maximum recommendation of 1:28. To meet the target, another 35 midwifes need to be employed.
The RCM, which is calling on the Government to recruit 5,000 more midwives into the NHS in England because of an increased birth rate, said the East Lancashire figures were “a concern”.
It said a shortage across the North West of around 257 staff could lead to home births being denied, midwife-led units closing, and a lack of support in the postnatal period.
Anita Fleming, head of midwifery at ELHT, said the trust was “fully supportive” of the RCM’s campaign, and that more appointments are being made. She said: “The trust’s ratio of midwives to mothers is currently 1:31.8.
“However, this has to be taken in context with changes to the maternity workforce in recent years.
“The role of the Maternity Support Worker has been developed and locally we are increasing the numbers of support workers, including clerical and administration support, to free up midwives time to enable them to have more time to do things that only a midwife can do.”
She added: “Births at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust are on an increase currently.
“But this can be partly contributed to the range and choices of maternity services and place of birth with the opening of the Lancashire Women and Newborns Centre, birth centres in Blackburn, Burnley and Rossendale, and also to the closure of maternity units in neighbouring localities.
“We have appointed 18 new midwives over the past 12 months and have just shortlisted and will be interviewing soon.”
Manuela Helena Da Costa-Fernandes, spokesman for the RCM, said: “The ELHT figure is over the 1:28 ration limit, and it is a concern.”
Jeanne Tarrant, of the RCM, said: “More investment is needed, action is needed, and it is needed now.
“Without some serious attention and investment I have real fears that services in the North West and Greater Manchester will be struggling to cope with the demands on them.”
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