NHS: Over 3,000 more midwifery training places offered
More than 3,000 places on midwifery training courses are to be created over the next four years in England as part of plans to meet NHS staffing demands.
The government has announced a 25% boost in training places, which it said amounted to the “largest ever” increase in NHS midwives and maternity staff.
The Royal College of Midwives welcomed the move but said training more midwives was only half of the problem.
The plan needs investment and time to make it work, the RCM added.
An extra 650 midwifery training places will be created next year, followed by 1,000 new places for the three subsequent years.
The news came after midwives, along with more than one million NHS staff, were offered pay increases of at least 6.5% over three years.
Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt will officially announce the measures at an event on Tuesday.
Alongside the increase in training places, Mr Hunt will promise mothers that they will be seen by the same midwife throughout labour, pregnancy and birth by 2021.
It is part of his ongoing ambition to make the NHS “the safest place in the world to give birth” and halve the rate of stillbirths, neonatal and maternal deaths and brain injuries during birth by 2025, the Department of Health said.
Mr Hunt will also announce plans to develop the role of maternity support workers (MSW) by creating set national standards that they must adhere to.
New training routes into midwifery will also be introduced.
The Royal College of Midwives estimates that services in England are 3,500 midwives short.
Chief executive of the RCM, Gill Walton, called the latest move “a very long overdue acknowledgement” of the need for more midwives.
“This announcement must be welcomed,” she said. “It will come as some relief to NHS midwives who have been working incredibly hard, for many years, with increasing demands and inadequate resources.”
But Ms Walton warned the measures were “ambitious” and would “not transform maternity services right now”, adding the extra recruited midwives would not qualify until 2022.
She added: “Simply training more midwives is only half of the problem.
“The other key issue is ensuring that when these midwives qualify they actually get jobs in the NHS.
“We must get a commitment from the government and trusts to employ them.
“Trusts are going to need an increase in the money they get so they can employ the new midwives.”
Last year, the Department of Health scrapped its NHS bursary scheme for trainee nurses and midwives in England.
It meant new students enrolling on most nursing and midwifery courses from August 2017 have to pay tuition fees like other students.