Added pressure on maternity services

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MATERNITY services in Greater Manchester and the East Midlands are already struggling to cope and are set to come under even more pressure, according to a leading health organisation.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) say 257 more midwives are needed in the North West to keep up with the baby boom, and Greater Manchester is of particular concern because of a service reconfiguration and the closure of some maternity units earlier this year.

And things would only get worse if NHS Derbyshire County’s proposals to close Buxton’s Corbar Birth Centre were approved. High Peak women would then have to travel to Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport or Macclesfield District General Hospital to give birth, putting even more pressure on already overstretched services.

Jeanne Tarrant, the RCM’s regional manager for the North West and East Midlands, said: “It is deeply worrying that the region remains so short of midwives and that it has worsened, with the birthrate increasing at such a rate.

“It is also not just about numbers. Births are also becoming increasingly complex, putting even more demands on maternity services.

“More investment is needed, action is needed, and it is needed now. Without some serious attention and investment I have real fears that services in the North West and Greater Manchester and East Midlands will be struggling to cope with the demands on them.”

The RCM are also estimating that around 600 more midwives are needed in the East Midlands to ensure that mothers get safe and high quality care. The figures have been revised after the RCM made new calculations based on new birth rate figures released last month.

The North West has seen a 19 per cent increase in births since 2001, while in the East Midlands, births are up 24 per cent. The RCM say the midwife shortages mean many women will be denied a home birth, midwife-led units will close and breastfeeding rates will not improve.

A final decision on Corbar’s future is expected in November.