Judge for Yourself

In the following exchange, Health Minister Dr Daniel Poulter rather testily dismisses a question from Steve about the provision of midwives and the Prime Minister’s explicit promise that he would recruit 3000 more.

Steve said births per midwife were rising. Figures for the first quarter of 2012 show that 4,600 more babies were born in England than in the same period of the previous year. These figures suggest that more than 700,000 babies will be born in England this year, which will be the highest number of any year since 1971. Even before this most recent rise, the growing number of births per midwife has worsened in the North West, the West Midlands, London and the South West.

Steve said maternity services were being cut.  NHS maternity services across the country are being cut. In a recent survey, more than a quarter of UK Heads of Midwifery reported that their budget had been cut in the last 12 months. The same survey found that two thirds said that they now have insufficient budget to employ the numbers of midwives they actually need. So far this year the birth centres in Darley Dale and Corbar in the East Midlands have closed and births no longer take place at units in Canterbury or Dover. The midwife-led unit in Harwich, in Essex, frequently closes because of a shortage of midwives. There are currently reviews into future provision of maternity services taking place across the East Midlands and London with closures imminent.

Steve said that newly qualified midwives are unable to find work. The findings of a survey by the Royal College of Midwives reveal that 32% of newly-qualified midwives have not yet found work as a midwife. Of these, 47% have been looking for work as a midwife for more than three months.

The Prime Minister promised 3000 more midwives.

He told The Sun newspaper in January 2010:

‘We will increase the number of midwives by 3000.... Second, we are going to make our midwives’ lives a lot easier. They are crucial to making a mum’s experience of birth as good as it can possibly be, but today they are overworked and demoralised. So we will increase the number of midwives by 3000’

Maybe Dr Poulter needs to brush up on his bedside manner and try listening to and answering the question rather than reading out a pre-prepared statement.

To watch a video of Steve's question and Dr Poulter's response, please click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3csmvJcZLfU&list=UUG9cQS_d7zHC2sxQLzDKB7Q&index=2.

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