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Staffing shortage, obesity put maternity care at risk in the UK

The study, from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) reports that one in every four women was obese at the time of their booking-in appointment in November 2022, up from 18percent five years before

A doctor taking care of a pregnant woman
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The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) study found that the NHS in England was short of the equivalent of 2,500 full-time midwives. While the NHS workforce in England increased by 14.1 percent between December 2019 and March 2023, the number of midwives increased by only 1.1 percent (247 new midwives), according to the report.
According to the research, the impact of staff shortages on women is "stark and sobering," with Care Quality Commission examinations of maternity facilities revealing safety risks directly related to staff shortages.
It also stated that, while the number of births has recently decreased, "the decrease is neither linear nor a cause for complacency."
According to the research, while it is possible for births to increase, it is important to note that the complexity of maternity care has been on the rise in recent years, regardless of any potential changes in birth rates.
It mentioned how women were giving birth later in life and how their care and that of their kids could be more complicated, while "rising levels of obesity impact the demands placed on midwives as well."
One in every four women was obese at the time of their booking-in appointment in November 2022, up from 18% five years before.
"This report lays out the significant challenges facing midwives and their colleagues, as well as what needs to be done to turn this situation around," said Birte Harlev-Lam, executive director midwife at the RCM.
"The NHS is one of the safest places in the world to give birth," claimed a representative for the Department of Health and Social Care.
Including an additional £165 million per year investment to expand the maternity workforce and enhance neonatal services, "We've taken steps to improve the quality of care for mothers and babies within the NHS." 
In order to meet the challenges of a growing and ageing population, the NHS recently released the first-ever Long Term Workforce Plan, backed by more than £2.4 billion in government funding. The plan calls for recruiting and retaining hundreds of thousands more employees over the course of the next 15 years.
 

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