Hospital midwife shortage

First published in News

BOLTON does not have enough midwives to cope with the number of babies being born in the town each year — despite being a maternity supercentre.

The Royal Bolton Hospital is falling short of the national requirements for the number of midwives per birth because it does not have enough money for more staff, health bosses say.

The figures were revealed to Bolton NHS Foundation Trust’s board last week, when the hospital’s chairman David Wakefield said the matter would be dealt with urgently.

He said the town was known for being an exemplary site for women and children, and therefore needed to be the best in the country. “My primary concern is safety. I do not want a single adverse situation from a lady having a baby in this hospital,” Mr Wakefield said.

Bolton currently has one midwife for every 31 mothers who give birth, but the national standard is one for every 28 mothers. The hospital is delivering 6,500 babies per year but only has staff for 6,300.

Chief nurse Dee Sissons said the department had been recruiting in September but added that hiring enough midwives to cover the hospital for 6,500 births was difficult due to financial resources.

She said: “There is a pool of midwives out there that we could recruit to the posts if we had the funding to do that. We have staffed for 6,300 but we are delivering more births now then we had anticipated.”

The hospital was given £20 million last year to spend on services for women, children and babies.

The scheme, which made Bolton a “supercentre”, aimed to improve services across Greater Manchester by concentrating them at fewer sites and led to the closure of other maternity centres, such as ta Fairfield General Hospital in Bury.

Mr Wakefield, who told the board his grandchild would be born at the Royal Bolton Hospital in the coming months, said he had been impressed by the maternity department.

He said: “I will speak to the commissioners. I won’t have a service that is not meeting safety standards.”

Lesley Gaskell, from The Royal College of Midwives, which sets the national standard, said: “We are reassured that there is ongoing commitment to the 1:28 standard and are working closely with the department.”

l See tomorrow’s paper for a full report on staff training at the hospital.

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