A report has revealed that the number of midwifery vacancies in Northern Ireland have tripled over the last six years.
The figures were reported in the Workforce Planning for Nurses and Midwives, published by the Northern Ireland Audit Office.
The report examines the nursing and midwifery workforce within both Health and Social Care and independent care sectors, evaluating whether the workforce is capable of dealing with future challenges and increasing demand for services.
Commenting on the review, RCM Director for Northern Ireland Karen Murray said: “The RCM has long been raising concerns about the midwife vacancy rate. Maternity services across Northern Ireland are under pressure due to vacant midwifery posts, and that is even before you include the number of sickness absences or midwives who may be on maternity leave.
“In addition, we have the added pressure of COVID-19, where some staff are having to isolate or shield. We must have enough midwives in the system to ensure that we can deliver safe, high quality care to women and their babies. That means investing in training for new midwives to counteract the exodus of midwives who have retired over the last few years.
“Although some of those retired midwives have continued to support the workforce over the past few years to plug the gaps, it’s not sustainable. Nor can we rely on bank midwives to cover rotas, as most midwives covering bank shifts are already working within the same service and are doing additional shifts over and above their contracted hours.”
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