March With Midwives: 'We can do better for pregnant women' say protesters

More than 20 banner-waving supporters of midwives working in the region took part in a vigil over a "maternity crisis".

Midwives protest
Midwives protest

Families and midwifery staff from Shropshire, Staffordshire and the Black Country were among campaigners attending The March With Midwives "grassroots action for solidarity" held in Stoke-on-Trent.

Among them was independent midwife Amanda Garside, of north Shropshire, a leading campaigner for choice in childbirth services.

"Midwives have not led this vigil. It was the families and independent midwives who know what is happening to pregnant women.

"It is a vigil to bring awareness. It started on social media a couple of weeks ago after student focus groups were talking about the stresses and strains they experienced during the coronavirus pandemic.

"People are saying this has been going on for years, but because midwives have not been complaining it has been allowed to continue. It's not on."

"We had a good turnout for such a cold afternoon. I was there representing Independent Midwives UK (IMUK) and self employed midwives, who are unable to support birth at this time as we no longer have indemnity for this. We still have antenatal and postnatal insurance and continue to support women.

"We have offered our services to support staff shortages in midwife-led units and on calls for home births, so these services are not suspended. But this needs forward thinking heads of midwifery to support this by employing independent midwives on NHS bank contracts.

"This works extremely well at The Chelsea & Westminster Hospital in London for example.

"IMUK will continue to try and support the NHS and families who are wanting maternity care outside of mainstream care," Ms Garside said.

The group were among hundreds to take part in similar events at towns and cities across the Midlands with maternity units and were described as a "UK vigil for maternity crisis".

A survey last month found that than half of midwives were being "driven out" because of "under-staffing and fears they can't deliver safe care to women".

A poll of 1,273 workers said 57 per cent of midwives surveyed planned to leave the NHS within the next year.

It follows a number of high-profile maternity scandals at hospitals in Shrewsbury and Telford; Morecambe Bay; and East Kent; and Cwm Taf Morgannwg health board in south Wales.

A Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "Midwives do an incredibly important job and we know how challenging it has been for those working during the pandemic. There are more midwives working in the NHS now than at any other time in its history and we are aiming to hire 1,200 more with a £95m recruitment drive."

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