THE number of midwives in county hospitals has increased, despite a nationwide shortage.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust has seen its number of midwives go up, despite warnings of shortages around the country.

NHS Digital figures show the equivalent of 203.1 full-time midwives were working at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust in December 2021 — 6 more than 197.1  at the same point in 2020.

In 2019 there were 195.8 midwives working for the trust.

The picture was not the same for the rest of the country — across England, there were the equivalent of 337 fewer full-time midwives working for the NHS than at the same point in 2020.

It means there are now 22,192 full-time midwives working on maternity wards nationally.

Full-time equivalent measures the proportion of full-time hours an employee is contracted to work, meaning the figures are likely to be lower than the actual headcount of staff — some of whom may work part time.

Gill Walton, chief executive of the RCM, a trade union for midwives, warned: "England is still more than 2,000 midwives short of where we need to be and that simply isn’t good enough.

"While we welcome attempts to train and recruit new midwives, this Government is doing nothing to stop the experienced and qualified ones from leaving.

"At the same time as demands on services and the pressures on maternity staff are rising, staff numbers are going down.

"Despite the often-heroic work of midwives and others to try to plug the gaps, this is putting the quality of care and the safety of women and babies at risk." 

Despite a drop in the number of midwives working for the NHS last year, the Nursing and Midwifery Council, a regulator for the profession, said registrations for new midwives to the organisation have continued to rise over the last few years.

A spokesperson for NHS England said: “We recognise that we have more to do to bolster our maternity workforce to ensure that we can provide the safest possible care for women and their babies.”

They said that NHS England is investing a further £127m into maternity services, most of which is earmarked for recruitment, leadership development and retention.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust was unavailable for comment.