Mothers and midwifery experts have presented a petition to the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, calling for the Government to tackle a severe national shortage of midwives.
BU Professor Paul Lewis from the School of Health & Social Care joined the delegation on the steps of Number 10 Downing Street. The petition, signed by 30,000 midwives, health professionals and parents, is the culmination of a two-year long campaign called ‘More Midwives to Save Lives’ run by the website, Midwivesonline.com.
According to campaigners, a rising birth rate, combined with a decrease in the amount of midwives, has left many UK maternity services under-funded and under-staffed.
The Midwivesonline.com petition asks for an additional 10,000 midwives to be trained; for every mother to have access to a qualified midwife throughout labour and a ‘named midwife’ during pregnancy, birth and the post-natal period.
Professor Lewis is one of Europe’s leading midwifery academics and has remained a practicing midwife in his own right over the last 27 years. He and his colleagues in the profession want the Government to take a far more proactive approach to the problems faced by expectant mothers.
“Social demographics show that within the next five years, over 50% of practising midwives will be eligible to retire, hence the rush to try and get over 4,000 midwives into the system in the next three to five years,“ said Professor Lewis, Associate Dean of Midwifery, Rehabilitation and Health Science in BU’s School of Health & Social Care.
“While Higher Education institutions like BU are working closely with our NHS partners to try and meet these targets, a current shortage of midwives makes this a seemingly impossible task,” Professor Lewis continues.
“The Government and other political parties have to find better ways of enhancing and increasing the diminishing midwifery workforce in the interests of mothers, their families and the wider society.
“It’s not as if mothers and midwives have been silent on the issues around appropriate and safe care during pregnancy and childbirth. Indeed, we have been shouting the need to increase midwife numbers in practice and a rise in the student midwives in training for many years.
“Sadly, the truth is that no one has been prepared to listen or even worse, no one was prepared to act on the information and advice that was being given.”