According to the latest State of Maternity Services Report, the number of NHS midwives working in England rose by just 67 in the last year.
The report showed that there were 21,601 full-time midwives working in the NHS in England in May 2018, up by just 67 in comparison to the same period last year.
2,132 midwives graduated from English universities in 2016/17.
Commenting on the report, RCM Chief Executive Gill Walton said: “It is of deep concern that we’re only seeing an increase of about one NHS midwife for every 30 or so newly-qualified midwives graduating from our universities.
“It is not that new midwives aren’t getting jobs, they are. The problem is that so many existing midwives are leaving the service that the two things almost cancel each other out.”
The report also highlighted that in the year to March, 33 midwives who trained elsewhere in the EU were added to the UK register.
This is a significant contrast to the 272 midwives recorded two years before the EU referendum in 2016.
During the same period, the number of EU midwives leaving the UK register increased from 160 to 234.
“We have around 1,700 EU-trained midwives registered to work here in the UK, and they will be caring for tens of thousands of women every year. Their numbers are already falling quite dramatically however, and my fear is that if Brexit goes ahead, especially without a deal, then their numbers could quite simply collapse.
“More needs to be done right now to guarantee their right to stay and work in the UK post-Brexit, even if there is no deal, then more will leave and that will make our shortage even worse,” Gill Walton added.
The RCM’s annual ‘State of Maternity Services Report 2018 – England’ can be found here.
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