Government set to announce 3,000 extra midwifery training places

Jeremy Hunt will also pledge that pregnant women will be treated by the same midwives throughout their pregnancy

More than 3,000 midwives and maternity support staff are to be trained over four years from 2019, the government is set to announce tomorrow.

Picture: iStock

Health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt will use his speech to outline the plan, which comes amid warnings from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) that there are 'chronic shortages in maternity services'.

Mr Hunt will also announce a plan to ensure pregnant women are treated by the same midwives throughout their pregnancy – a move that aims to reduce the number of miscarriages, stillbirths and neonatal deaths. The target is for one in five women to benefit from the 'continuity of carer' model by March 2019, with most women receiving care from the same midwives throughout their pregnancy, labour and birth by 2021.

The government said research suggests that women who use the model are 19% less likely to miscarry, 16% less likely to lose their baby and 24% less likely to give birth prematurely.

Transforming results for mothers and babies

Mr Hunt is set to say in his speech: 'The statistics are clear that having a dedicated team of midwives who know you and understand your story can transform results for mothers and babies – reducing miscarriages, stillbirths and neonatal deaths, and the agony that comes with these tragedies.

'This profound change will be backed up by the largest-ever investment in midwifery training, with a 25% expansion in the number of training places, as well as an incredibly well-deserved pay rise for current midwives.'

An extra 650 midwifery training places will be created next year, with 1,000 new places offered over the subsequent three years.

Other measures will include a more formal definition for maternity support workers, whose roles and job titles vary widely and do not adhere to set standards.

The government will also work with organisations, including the RCM, to develop new training routes into midwifery.

The announcements come after last week's news of NHS pay rises of between 6.5% and 29% over three years, which are part of a pay deal awaiting approval from NHS staff. 

A newly qualified band 5 midwife will start on a salary of £24,907 by 2020-21, which is a 12.6% rise from the current starting salary.

'This government has been listening to us'

RCM chief executive Gill Walton said: 'This is a long overdue acknowledgement by the government that England's maternity services need more midwives.

'The RCM has been campaigning to get successive governments to eradicate the midwife shortage for well over a decade. This is recognition that this government has been listening to us.'

But she added: 'While we welcome the commitment to continuity of care, it is ambitious. The additional midwives who start training next year won't be qualified midwives working in our maternity services until 2022.

'That will make a difference and will begin to have an impact on the workload of midwives, but it will not transform maternity services right now. It will take seven or eight years before all of the new midwives announced today will be actually working in our maternity services.'

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