London has lowest proportion of midwives in England

A midwife speaks to a pregnant woman (Stock image)  (PA Wire)
A midwife speaks to a pregnant woman (Stock image) (PA Wire)

London has the lowest number of midwives per women of childbearing age of any region in England, according to new figures.

Analysis of NHS Digital statistics reveals that there are just 1.9 full-time NHS midwives per potential new mums. Every other region in England has over 2 NHS midwives per 1,000 women of childbearing age, the figures showed.

The midwifery workforce also fell by 3 per cent in the last year in the capital, according to analysis by the Liberal Democrats. In 2021, London had 4,272 NHS midwives, compared with 4,144 now.

Across England, there were nearly fewer 500 midwives this year compared with 2021.

It comes as the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) prepares to ballot its members over strike action on November 11. Midwives have only taken strike action once in 140 years.

Dr Suzanne Tyler, the RCM’s executive director, said last month that midwives were at “breaking point” and that the Government’s offer of a £1,400 pay rise “would see midwives heading for the door”.

However, the RCM has said no action would be taken that puts mothers and babies at risk, with safe services being maintained.

Midwives in Scotland have already voted in favour of industrial action, with 88 per cent of RCM members voting to strike in a turnout of 61 per cent of eligible voters.

Nurses are also currently voting over whether to strike in a dispute over pay, with a ballot by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) set to close on Wednesday.

The rate of midwives was based on the estimated catchment population of women aged between 15 and 44 years, which is in line with the working definition of childbearing age used by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Sarah Olney, Liberal Democrat MP for Richmond Park, said: “Having a child is one of the most special things a family can do, yet this Government is failing to support that.

“The Conservatives need to step up and support London’s midwives. We need an urgent review into this crisis, and across the country the Government must take immediate action to fill the 130,000 vacancies in the NHS.”