There is a crisis in maternity services – leaving midwives ‘overworked, exhausted and under immense pressure,’ says one York mother.
And that is why she is joining the March With Midwives in York tomorrow (Sunday, 21 November).
Leaving York Minster at 2pm, the march is one of several taking place across the country to highlight what organises say is the crisis in midwifery.
Campaigners say pregnant women and their babies are being put at risk because of a lack of staff.
A Royal College of Midwives survey found:
- 60% of UK midwives are considering leaving the profession
- 57% said they planned to leave the NHS in the next year
- 80% of those planning to leave cited inadequate staffing levels
- 67% said they were unhappy with the quality and safety of care they are currently able to deliver.
One York mother, who didn’t want to be named, said: “I have had two babies in York Hospital, one prior to the pandemic and one during it.
“In both cases, I always got the impression that the midwives were overworked, exhausted and under immense pressure. Community midwife appointments were brief, with most of the time devoted to health checks and the rest taken up by government dictated tick-box exercises.
“There was never time to discuss my own concerns, birth plan, or in any way prepare for birth and motherhood. I believe this is something midwives are trained to do, and want to do with their patients, but unfortunately current systems and staffing levels simply do not allow the time.”
‘Birth trauma on the rise’
Kimberley Tweedie-Long is a doula in York – a woman who is trained to provide support to women and their families during pregnancy, childbirth and afterwards.
Kimberley, who runs Every Step Doula, will also be on the march. “Birth trauma is on the rise, with one-third of women experiencing some part of their birth as traumatic.
“This can also lead to postnatal depression and further loss of life (suicide is the biggest killer of new mothers). And midwives are traumatised too, with one third of them reporting symptoms of PTSD.
“The government want us to believe that staffing levels are not as bad as they look, but actually they are far worse, with many midwives on long term sick leave or still on the register despite leaving two years previously.”
We asked the York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to tell us the staffing situation for maternity services at York Hospital. But a spokesperson said all inquiries about the March With Midwives had to go through to the Department for Health and Social Care.
YorkMix asked the health department for the information on staffing at York Hospital. They ignored our question and sent this statement.
A Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are committed to patient safety, eradicating avoidable harms and making the NHS the safest place in the world to give birth.
“Midwives do an incredibly important job and we know how challenging it has been for those working during the pandemic. There are more midwives working in the NHS now than at any other time in its history and we are aiming to hire 1,200 more with a £95 million recruitment drive.
“The mental health and wellbeing of staff remains a key priority and the NHS continues to offer a broad range of support including through dedicated helplines and mental health and wellbeing hubs.”