Home   Maidstone   News   Article

Vigil held in Maidstone as midwives across the county protest at 'unsafe' services


More news, no ads

LEARN MORE

A peaceful vigil has been held in a town centre as midwives and campaigners take to the streets across England to highlight a crisis in maternity services.

Maidstone's Jubilee Square was the setting for a day of action as those in the profession say a lack of staffing is leading qualified staff to burn out and leave, while few choose it as a career option.

People who took part in the vigil held in Maidstone over midwifery services Picture: Hannah Lamprell
People who took part in the vigil held in Maidstone over midwifery services Picture: Hannah Lamprell

People who attended the March with Midwives event were out from 2pm today with placards.

Samantha Davison is a community midwife who covers much of the Malling district and parts of Maidstone.

She revealed the idea behind the day was not aimed at NHS trusts themselves - and she says Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells has measures in place to mitigate the risks of understaffing - but rather securing action at government level to help the profession.

In Maidstone, home births have been suspended since July due to understaffing and concerns over ambulance response times.

Community midwives, like Mrs Davison, who would normally visit families at home as they give birth, have since been drafted in to cover staff shortages and higher at the Maidstone Birthing Unit, based on the Maidstone Hospital site and at the Tunbridge Wells Hospital.

The day of action was a way of raising issues with burnout and the pressures midwives face Picture: Hannah Lamprell
The day of action was a way of raising issues with burnout and the pressures midwives face Picture: Hannah Lamprell

The birthing unit offers women a midwife-led birth - this is usually for women who do not have any issues or complications with their pregnancies.

Higher risk births take place at the Tunbridge Wells Hospital in Pembury, but due to pressures faced both in hospitals people who live out of area are being asked to go elsewhere.

Mrs Davison said: "The national protests have really grown and the movement only started a month ago. Since then we have 21,000 followers.

"It is a national issue. For every 30 midwives who qualify, 29 leave the profession, and those who qualify face at least £41,000 of debt. Then because of the shortages the burnout rate among staff is so high.

"For many they'll work a full day at work, followed by being called in after hours to cover high activity and staffing shortfalls. This can often mean working until the early hours of morning, then returning next day to work again.

Banners and placards got the message across Picture: Hannah Lamprell
Banners and placards got the message across Picture: Hannah Lamprell

"And the issue is, while other healthcare can be rationed and changed, such as during the height of the pandemic, you can't postpone a baby."

Mrs Davison says it is now not unusual for one midwife to look after nine women in hospital. She points out that ratio does not actually include newly-delivered babies so the real figure is more like one midwife to 18 people.

"The assumption behind this is that all babies are well," she added. "But of course that figure doesn't allow for women or their children experiencing problems."

In west Kent, Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch has put out a call to arms to local MPs with a view to examining what can be done, alongside the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust.

In October, a report from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) warned of an exodus of staff from the profession as a result of understaffing.

People of all ages turned out in Maidstone this afternoon Picture: Hannah Lamprell
People of all ages turned out in Maidstone this afternoon Picture: Hannah Lamprell
Marches and vigils were held up and down the country today, including this one in Maidstone Picture: Hannah Lamprell
Marches and vigils were held up and down the country today, including this one in Maidstone Picture: Hannah Lamprell

Almost 60% of midwives and maternity support workers surveyed said they would leave the NHS within the next year, with the RCM warning that there is already a pre-existing shortage of 2,000 midwives in England alone.

March with Midwives, which describes itself as a grassroots organisation, has four demands for politicians: To listen to all staff and service users and their advocates; fund emergency retention of staff; enable all qualified midwives who are willing to work and support students to enter training and finish their courses and reduce demands on staff.

Read more: All the latest news from Maidstone

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More