Help us campaign as baby boom Britain puts maternity care under strain
Births are higher now than they were a decade ago in every part of the UK – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Put simply, we are in a baby boom.
England has seen the sharpest rise. In 2001, around 563,000 babies were born in England. In 2010, it was 687,000. That is a rise equivalent to an extra 10,000 babies born every month. In fact, more babies were born in England in 2010 than in any year since 1971; to give you some context, that was the same year that we left “old money” (pounds, shillings and pence) behind and switched to decimal currency.
It is not expected to stop there. Provisional figures for January-September 2011 point to a continued rise. And it won’t stop there either. The Office for National Statistics expect the number of babies born in Engtland to reach 723,000 by the middle of this decade. The rise seems relentless.
The profile of pregnant women is changing too, adding to the pressure. The number of births to women aged 40 or over, who typically need more care, was higher in 2010 than in any year since 1948 (the year in which the NHS was created!). More mums with high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity all add to the pressure.
We are in an age of austerity, of course. But the Government often boasts that the NHS budget has been protected, and surely if there is any group that should be shielded from the brunt of any cuts it is newborn babies. David Cameron did make a promise before the General Election to recruit an extra 3,000 midwives into the NHS. Sadly, once he was in office, the promise was dropped.
Despite the rhetoric, we are hearing about birth centres closing, student midwives with no jobs to go into once they qualify, and even midwife numbers being cut. That is why we set up our Protect Maternity Services website, so that midwives and members of the public can more easily let us know what is happening in their area.
Please make use of it and alert us to what is happening in your part of the country. It’s UK-wide, so it doesn’t matter if you’re in Cornwall, Kirkcaldy, Caernarfon or Carrickfergus. Thank you.