Three out of four midwives think current staffing levels are unsafe

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More than three-quarters of NHS midwives believe that the staffing levels in their NHS trust or board are unsafe, a survey has found.

The survey, carried out by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), discovered that 42% of midwives reported that there were staff shortages during shifts, whilst a further third reported that there were “very significant gaps” in the majority of shifts at their workplace.

The survey, which included responses from 1,400 members of staff, also found that 50% felt unsafe due to staff shortages and the inability to socially distance during the pandemic, 63% carried out unpaid work beyond their contracted hours and only 2% felt valued by the Government. 70% of those surveyed had thought about leaving the profession, with one third of those having seriously considered it.

Gill Walton, chief executive of the RCM, has said that morale within the profession is at its lowest. She stresses that unless urgent changes are made, the exhaustion and demoralisation that is being felt by maternity staff may have a catastrophic effect on the safety of women and children.

Emily Legge, a paralegal within the medical negligence team at Ashtons Legal, comments: “It is highly concerning that midwives are in a position where they feel that the safety of their patients is at risk, and that understaffing levels are affecting their own wellbeing. The current pandemic has placed immeasurable strain upon the NHS but it is vital that midwives are given the support they require in order to provide a safe environment for both their patients and themselves. If not, there is a serious risk of foreseeable tragedies occurring.”


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