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Royal College of Midwives

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Record number of births in 2011
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Find out what’s happening in your area

Find out the latest news in your region. Hover over the regions on the map to see news of cuts, challenges and shortages in your area.

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland too has seen a big rise in the number of births. There were 25,315 more babies born in 2010 compared to 2001 – a rise of 15%. As has happened elsewhere in the UK, the number of older women giving birth has risen – these women need more care than younger women – with a rise of over 50% in births to these women over the decade.

Midwives in Northern Ireland are getting older too. A decade ago, a little over a third (36%) were aged 45 or above; by 2010, more than half (55%) were in that age group, fast approaching retirement.

Wales

Wales is experiencing its own baby boom. Between 2002 and 2010 the number of babies born jumped 19%, with rises in every part of Wales – the number of babies born in Cardiff rose by over a third.

As has happened elsewhere in the UK, the number of births to the oldest mothers – those aged 40 or over – was up around 50% over the course of the last decade.

This jump in birth numbers caused a Welsh midwife shortage to emerge in 2009, which worsened in 2010.

Scotland

The number of births in Scotland is at a recent high. With many more older mothers giving birth (there were more births in 2010 to women in the 40-44 age group than in any year since 1967 and more births in the 45-49 age group than in any year since 1970); caring for women giving birth at this age demands more of midwives. Whilst the number of midwives looks broadly sufficient, the ageing midwifery workforce presents a hidden problem that must be addressed if a retirement crisis is to be averted. The rise in the number of midwives in their early fifties, for example, jumped 50% between 2007 and 2010.

The midwife-led unit in Stranraer is no longer staffed around-the-clock, and question marks hang over some similar units in Scotland.

South West

The South West saw one of the biggest rises in the number of babies born of any region in England. The number was 60,144 in 2010, up 11,397 or 23% compared to 2001.

Despite facing one of the biggest challenges in terms of growth in the number of births, the midwifery workforce rose by only a little over 9% over the same period.

To make matters worse, the number of midwives was cut in 2011, falling by 3% in just one year. The number of places for student midwives to train in the region was cut by 9% in the academic year that started in 2011.

South East

The South East saw a 20% rise in the number of births over the course of the baby boom so far, up almost 18,000 births to stand at 106,434 in 2010.

Over the same period the number of midwives rose by 22%, which is more than the rise in the number of births – but there was a shortage of midwives to start with and that has not disappeared. 

We have reports that there are no jobs for the students graduating from the University of Brighton in September.

London

London has done well responding to the baby boom. Whilst the capital has seen the biggest rise in the number of babies born – up 28% or almost 29,000 – the midwifery workforce rose by the equivalent of 1,154 or 44% between 2001 and 2010. 

Whilst the region is still short of midwives, it has done well to keep pace with the baby boom.

The maternity unit at St Helier Hospital in southwest London is under threat of closure.

East of England

The number of babies born in the East of England has jumped by 21% from 60,090 in 2001 to 73,001 in 2010. The NHS in the East of England has done a good job of recruiting midwives, with numbers up 22% over the same period.

However, like many others, the region had a shortage of midwives to start with, so despite this big rise in midwife numbers, the baby boom means it hasn’t yet closed the gap on its midwife shortage.

Additionally, the number of places for new student midwives to train in the region was cut by almost 4% in the 2011-2012 academic year. 

West Midlands

There were over 11,000, or 19%, more babies born in the West Midlands in 2010 than in 2001. The number of midwives employed in the NHS in the region over the same period rose by a much lower 7%, or the equivalent of 151 full-time midwives.

Unfortunately, in 2011 the number of full-time equivalent midwives in the region was cut. Whilst we don’t yet have birth figures for the region to compare this to, the number of births in England as a whole is expected to rise in 2011 and go on rising.

East Midlands

The East Midlands has seen the second highest rise in births of any region in England, with the number of babies born up 24% between 2001 and 2010 (we don’t yet have figures for 2011).

Over the same period the number of midwives rose by the equivalent of just 4%.This has helped give the East Midlands the second worst ratio of births per midwife of any region in England. 

Corbar Birth Centre and Darley Birth Centre, both in Derbyshire, are closing to save money.

Yorkshire and the Humber

Yorkshire & the Humber has seen a big rise in the number of births since the start of the England-wide baby boom in 2001, with 20% more babies born in 2010 compared to 2001.

This outpaced the rise in the number of midwives, which was 13% over the same period. In February 2012, Hull & East Yorkshire Hospital NHS Trust announced the closure of Jubilee Birth Centre at Castle Hill Hospital in Cottingham.

This followed the temporary closure of the birth centre as a result of a midwife shortage.

North West

Since the start of the baby boom in England, which began in 2001, the number of babies born in the North West is up almost 14,000 from 75,201 to 89,199. That is a rise of 19%.

Over the same period however, the number of midwives working in the NHS in the region was actually cut by 78 midwives, or 3%.

Since then the number has fallen again, by a further 31 midwives.

North East

Between the 2001 start of the baby boom in England and 2010 (the latest year for which birth figures are available), the number of babies born in the North East jumped by 19% or 4,877.

Over the same period the number of full-time equivalent midwives rose by just 19 midwives, or less than 2%.

In 2011 the equivalent of a further 11 full-time midwives were employed by the NHS in the North East.

Hover over the map to see news from other regions

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Latest News

Call the student midwives!

On 16 July Rebecca and her fellow student midwives dressed in 1950's gear and cycled through London to raise awareness for our 5,000 More Midwives campaign. Read her description of the day here!

Record number of births in 2011

Latest figures show that the baby boom in England is placing extra strain on midwives and maternity services.

Over 300 of you report impact of cuts

Your reports are rolling in at an impressive pace and their message is loud and clear - we need more midwives and better maternity care.

More News

Resources

Infographic

Infographic

The impact of the midwife shortage on mothers.

More Resources