Cameron midwives promise 'broken'

Maternity services are under ever-increasing pressure, say the RCM
Maternity services are under ever-increasing pressure, say the RCM

By Peter Wozniak

David Cameron and Nick Clegg have gone back on promises made to increase the number of midwives, the Royal College of Midwives has claimed.

Speaking on the BBC this morning, RCM general secretary Cathy Warwick accused the government of reneging on the pledge after a meeting with health secretary Andrew Lansley.

She said: "Just before the election, both the prime minister and the deputy prime minister told us that they would commit to continuing the previous government's promise to give us more midwives.


"What's happened is we have now had a meeting with Andrew Lansley and the government are clearly not prepared to fulfill that commitment."

Ms Warwick cited an RCM survey of midwives released yesterday, that found there were too few staff given the increasing pressure on services.

Births in the UK had increased from 560,000 in 2001 to 670,000 last year - a 19% rise.

Coupled with increasing proportions of births from complex pregnancies, more than half the midwives polled thought that a lack of staff was negatively impacting on patient care.

The news comes as the RCM begins its annual conference, where Ms Warwick is set to step up calls for a change in government policy.

The sentiments were echoed by Conservative MP David Amess, who recently wrote in politics.co.uk: "For too long, maternity services were not a priority within the NHS.

"The price of getting maternity care wrong is extremely high, as the cost of litigation shows and in a time of austerity these are costs the country simply cannot afford."

Labour's shadow health secretary John Denham said the government had been "caught out" by the RCM, adding of the health secretary's planned NHS reforms: "It's clear that Cameron and Lansley's promises on the NHS are starting to unravel."

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