THE woman in charge of Portsmouth’s midwifery services says her department is one of the best as figures show it has more staff per mum-to-be than most other places.
Gill Walton, head of midwifery at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, is reassuring families there are enough midwives to cope with rising birth rates.
In the Portsmouth area, one midwife cares for 30 pregnant women. This is the second-best rate in the south east region behind the Isle of Wight, which has a ratio of one midwife for 29 mothers.
It comes after the Royal College of Midwives has predicted that a 1,000 more midwives are needed in the south east to keep up a baby boom.
But Gill says Portsmouth is bucking the trend.
She said: ‘The RCM says the ratio should be one to 28, but 30 is acceptable as long as there are enough maternity support workers. We have 203 full-time midwives that serve in QA and in the community, such as health and GP centres.
‘We review birth rates on a monthly basis. This way we can predict if we will need more midwives.
‘My aim is to always make sure the ratio stays at one to 30.’
Last year, there were 6,100 births at the Queen Alexandra Hospital – a slight increase on the previous year.
‘The area experienced a baby boom about four years ago,’ added Gill. ‘We’ve seen a small increase this summer, so it’s been slightly up this year compared with previous years.
‘Every financial year we review our midwifery workforce requirement, with the predicted birthrate. Then we can take on staff to keep to the ratio.
‘We are doing well compared to other areas in the region, Southampton has a ratio of one to 34, Winchester one to 33 and Basingstoke one to 36.’
But Pat Gould, RCM regional manager for the south east, said more investment was needed in maternity services, adding: ‘Action is needed, and it is needed now. It is deeply worrying that the region remains so short of midwives, with the birthrate increasing at such a rate. It’s not just about numbers, births are also becoming increasingly complex, putting even more demands on maternity services.’