The Royal College of Midwives has long called for an increase in the number of midwives in the UK.
Its call has been supported by the recently-published King's Fund Report, which sets out the challenge that faces the NHS today - finding savings of £15-£20 billion by the end of 2013/14.
These cost savings will affect every area of the NHS and, in particular, maternity services. With the rising birth rate and the increase in the number of complex births, there's a concern that maternity services will become stretched to the limit without the possibility of increasing the number of midwives available.
The report recommends a shift in responsibilities during labour and birth. One of the ways the report recommends that services could be improved is by midwives becoming more involved in the care of low and medium risk pregnancies to enable obstetricians to be released to focus on those women with more complex needs. It's also suggested that midwives hand over some of their current responsibilities to nurses, neonatal nurses, or even midwife support workers.
Regular training is paramount in the midwifery profession, and with a cut in the available budget, it's difficult to see how a high standard of training for midwives, nurses or support workers can be achieved or maintained.
Shoosmiths from Shoosmiths represents children who've been diagnosed with cerebral palsy or learning difficulties as a result of a brain injury sustained at birth.
Medical negligence specialist Jo Carver said: "Such injuries often arise as a result of failures on the part of midwives to adequately monitor the baby's condition during birth.
'Equally, a failure to provide adequate training for midwives arises as a common criticism in these cases. It's more often than not a failure of a hospital's system that gives rise to such catastrophic injuries, but it's the parents of these severely disabled children who are left to cope with the consequences of such failures.'
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