DOZENS more midwifery students have been taken on at the University of Bedfordshire this year, however the Government needs to increase student quotas nationally “to cope”.
That’s according to NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council) Lead Midwife for Education at the University, Dr Barbara Burden, who is urging the Government to act as it’s announced the UK is expected to face the biggest baby boom in four decades over the coming years.
Dr Burden fears unless measures are in place to train more candidates, the impact will be expectant mothers unable to have one-to-one contact with midwives.
There is no shortage of people wanting to become midwives – only lack of places, she said. Last year 1,000 potential students applied for the 70 places that were available at the University.
The University’s nursing and midwifery department increased its quota by 20 per cent in 2012 bucking the national trend where numbers in many institutions have been remained the same or even reduced.
Dr Burden pointed out that last year’s students would not be in the workforce until 2015.
And unless action is taken now there could be shortages even in subsequent years.
“It is important to note that this is not a new problem,” said Dr Burden. “The shortage of midwives has been present for at least two years and this added to the projected increase in the birth rate will significantly compound the issue.”
Currently, according the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), England is short of 5,000 midwives, while a quarter of UK Heads of Midwifery have said their budgets had been cut in the past 12 months.
Dr Burden added: “We have capacity to recruit more student midwives but are constrained by the funding that the Strategic Health Authorities receive from the Government to fund the training of student midwives, which in turn dictates the number of students we can recruit each year.
“As midwives leave the profession and are not replaced, or as the birth rate increases and the number of midwives does not increase, then we are constrained by the number of students we can allocate to the practice environment, as each student must have a midwife to act as mentor and assessor in the practice setting, to ensure that they are safe and competent to practice.”
According to last year’s National Student Survey 98 per cent of student midwives at the University of Bedfordshire got jobs after qualifying.