A recent survey conducted by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) highlights a shortage of almost 5,000 midwives in medical centres across England, despite a rising birth rate.

The survey also indicates that frequent unit closures, restricted services such as home births, and decreasing budgets, are just some of the issues that midwives are facing across the UK.

Over a third of survey respondents – heads of midwifery (HOMs) – advised they do not have enough money to ensure that they have the minimum number of staff to meet the demands of their maternity service, with a fifth of HOMs stating that their budgets have been cut within the last twelve months.

Almost all of those surveyed reported that staff are deployed to cover essential services, and two-thirds of HOMs recruited bank and agency staff to cover staff shortages.

Madeleine Pinschof, a clinical negligence solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “A midwife in training is not the same as qualified midwives on the wards and the pressures that current midwives are under is alarming.

“Decreasing budgets and insufficient staffing are issues that put yet more strain on the maternity services and ultimately put lives at risk.

“Women are entitled to the highest standard of antenatal and postnatal care. But, maternity services and the staff who work in them are being stretched to the limit, and the risk is that mothers-to-be and their babies’ wellbeing and safety is being compromised.

“Staff are not being given the support that they need and as a result, standards are slipping across the board. It is essential that money is invested in maternity services across the country to ensure that patient care is made the utmost priority and we don’t see forced errors leading to claims for clinical negligence.”