Surging birth rates have meant a shortage of midwives at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

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But the hospital says it has now recruited extra midwives and is about to embark on a review of maternity services because the birth rate is predicted to increase further.

And parents have praised the midwifery-led birthing unit, which has just celebrated its first birthday and which hospital bosses say has helped relieve pressure on the delivery suite.

Last year there were 6,086 births at the Colney hospital, compared to 5,777 in 2008/9, and hospital bosses say they expect the birth rate to go up again by 4pc this year.

At times the hospital has not had enough midwives to provide one-to-one care on the delivery suite, and on six occasions since the start of the year the hospital has closed the delivery suite, with women sent to other hospitals.

Glynis Moore, head of midwifery at the N&N, said: “We have seen an increase in the birth rate in recent years and we estimate it will rise again this year by nearly four per cent. Our maternity service is expanding to keep pace with demand and we have increased the number of midwives on duty over the last nine months.

“During July, we also recruited a number of midwives to provide an extra 5.7 whole-time equivalents. Our normal recruitment pattern is to take a combination of students and experienced midwives and we take on about 23 staff each year during the spring and autumn. Across the country, hospitals are seeing a high demand for maternity care and to address the local picture we are carrying out a staffing review to look at the future needs of our service.

“We provide a high quality of care for local women and patient surveys show we perform well in terms of patient experience.”

The birth rate has increased nationally, but the reasons are not clear. Some research has suggested improved IVF treatment has contributed, while bosses at the N&N point to the 2011 census results which showed 60,000 more people are living in Norfolk now compared with 10 years ago.

On the decisions to close the delivery suite, a spokeswoman for the N&N, said: “There is a degree of unpredictability around the number of women in labour at any one time and this makes it difficult to plan with precision.

“It is important to provide safe care and, like every other unit in the country, there will be some occasions when it may be clinically safer to divert patients to other units. This is not ideal and it is not a decision we take lightly.”

Guidance from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is for a minimum midwife to women ratio of 1:28 patients to allow one-to-one care throughout a pregnancy, although that varies based on the local population and individual specialisms of individual hospitals. The N&N’s ratio is 1:33.

A spokeswoman said: “In terms of the staffing ratio, there are many factors which will affect how the ratio of midwives to patients is calculated, such as the clinical case mix, turnover of staff, type of service offered and local birth rate.

“We periodically review our staffing ratio as the birth rate changes and our latest review will look at this ratio again taking into account all the elements of our service.”

The hospital last year created its midwifery-led birthing unit. Ms Moore said: “We have just reached the first anniversary of the unit which has delivered 1,187 babies during the last year and received very positive feedback from our patients and their partners.

“The new unit has also helped us to address the increase in births and offers women, who are healthy with a straightforward pregnancy, a home-from-home environment in which to have a natural birth.”

Extra midwives have also been taken on at other hospitals in the region, with the Royal College of Midwives this summer calling for the government to address the UK’s midwives shortage as the birth rate nationally goes up.

Carol Mutton, head of midwifery at the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston, said: “Locally our birth rate is stable and we have seen no real increase in the the birth rate over the past eight years.

“Between 2008/09 and 2011/12 we increased the number of midwives by 10 wholetime equivalents and five of these were specialist midwives recruited to provide enhanced care for vulnerable women.

“This was a welcome investment designed to help meet our local needs. Our midwife to birth ratio is 1:26 and is better than the recommended ratio.”

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn said its ratios were within the guidelines, with more than 80 midwives.

Barbara James, head of midwifery, said: “Our locally trained students have wanted to stay after qualifying and we have been able to offer them positions here. The positive thing is that the midwives have wanted to stay with us. They receive excellent training, we have a good reputation and they generally like it here. We have also been able to recruit midwives from other areas.

“As far as midwives are concerned we can assure expectant mothers and their families that they will be treated here to a very high, safe standard.”

The West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds, said it had a ratio of 1:29 and that the number of babies born there had increased from 2,703 in 2010/11 to 2,823 in 2011/12.

25 comments

  • disgusting remarks!!! Out come the Daily Mail racist brigade blaming everything on immigration!!! I work at the N&N and the majority of ladies on the delivery suite are not foreign!! We aint being swamped with those pesky foreigners. Even people from abroad are allowed to work and have babies you know! Besides thank God for immigrants and their work ethic! At least they contribute, unlike a lot of work shy natives. And yes, i am British!

    Report this comment

    simon taylor

    Monday, September 17, 2012

  • ONS publication at the end of August, revealed that the percentage of live births to non born UK mothers during 2011 at the N&N was 20.8%.

    Report this comment

    nrg

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

  • dave123: "The surge is due to the number of Foreign Nationals who are swamping the Maternity Units." Can you cite any evidence to support your suggestion? My understanding was that a great many factors are actually at work here -- not just one -- and that it's actually very hard for anyone to predict or explain rises in birth rates of the kind we are experiencing right now.

    Report this comment

    Trevor Ashwin

    Monday, September 17, 2012

  • The figure for the N&N may be true.....Around 25.5 per cent of children born in England and Wales in 2011 were to mothers who were themselves born outside the UK, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has reported......http:www.publicservice.co.uknews_story.asp?id=20771

    Report this comment

    Rhombus

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

  • miss Larson you still can't find the document?? others have!...guess your browsing is very much like your thinking?

    Report this comment

    nrg

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

  • Norton , you made it up. And no one has found your 20.8% for foreign births at NNUH. And Norton , surely it is about time you stopped pretending to be other posters on here ? Even the moderator knows now.

    Report this comment

    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

  • You could be right dave123,many young natives are putting off having kids due to the costs of raising them and buying that first home. Others come in,who have not paid a single penny into our health care system and take,take and are given,given by our austerity bounded government services....methinks the country will end up in ruin within 5 years or less.The natives may take up the arab spring cause for change.

    Report this comment

    nrg

    Monday, September 17, 2012

  • Seems the NHS Norwich had failed to take on board local population statistics and plan their staffing accordingly. Look around Norwich-it is a young city.Any young person who can get a job in Norwich is going to move there ,especially if they come from Yarmouth. It has a number of employers of younger people-the various academic and scientific foundations and the hospital for starters.The expanding nice villages and small towns to the south of Norwich are also served by N&N so we could also count young people who commute to Cambridge and London amongst the population rise. The NHS making adequate provision should not be news and with luck we will see fewer rushed diversions when women already in labour are sent on treks across country to other hospitals.

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    Daisy Roots

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

  • NRG has been banned before? LOL has he really? Nasty comments! And one in 5 of the patients is not a majority :-) I would question even that figure! Besides if natives are not having enough babies to keep things going in the future (which i believe is happening) then we need immigration surely or there will be no one paying my pension in 20 years! So surely an increasing birthrate is a good thing?

    Report this comment

    simon taylor

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

  • Norton , you made it up. And no one has found your 20.8% for foreign births at NNUH. And Norton , surely it is about time you stopped pretending to be other posters on here ? Even the moderator knows now.

    Report this comment

    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

  • So no Norfolk born mothers have their babies born outside Norfolk? OR even.... my goodness..... in another country?

    Report this comment

    expat

    Saturday, September 22, 2012

  • *** "The ONS site has all you seek,.." ****. So old nrg cannot produce the evidence to back up his claim of 20.8% foreign births at NNUH ......he made it all up , is a bare faced deceiver , it doesn't exist , oh dear oh dear , etc etc.

    Report this comment

    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

  • ***ONS publication at the end of August, revealed that the percentage of live births to non born UK mothers during 2011 at the N&N was 20.8%****. I can find no ONS report that says any such thing about the NNUH. Conclusion ? Nrg ( aka Norton ) has made it up or is applying a figure from some other part of the country to the NNUH. So no surprise there.

    Report this comment

    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

  • Am sorry luvvie, lunch break is now over, must go and earn some corn.The ONS site has all you seek, using their paywall can help those who suffer from the hard of thinking or searching.

    Report this comment

    nrg

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

  • ***ONS publication at the end of August, revealed that the percentage of live births to non born UK mothers during 2011 at the N&N was 20.8%****. I can find no ONS report that says any such thing about the NNUH. Conclusion ? Nrg ( aka Norton ) has made it up or is applying a figure from some other part of the country to the NNUH. It will not surprise readers to know that nrg was banned from previous Archant forums for posting racist comments.

    Report this comment

    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

  • Readers should also be aware that nrg has been banned from previous Archant forums . I'm sure you can guess why.

    Report this comment

    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

  • The report on the ONS website says that 14.6% of births for mothers whose usual place of residence is Norfolk were born outside of the UK. There doesn't seem to be a published statistic for the NNUH.

    Report this comment

    AE

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

  • AE, keep looking, it's there...along with Lynn and GY 19% and 12.3%.

    Report this comment

    nrg

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

  • ***Miss Larson, must try better with your search engines, for the hard of thinking, it's in Excel format and downloadable for the native masses****. You are a liar nrg ( aka Norton ) . Provide the title of this document , the year and month it was published , and on what page exactly it says that 20.8% of births at the NNUH in 2011 were to foreign mothers.

    Report this comment

    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

  • I can believe the 19% for James Paget! Just from the chatter of the buggy pushers on the streets.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

  • Actually nrg i will get my NHS pension at 60. (i am one of the lucky ones, just got in, dont have to work til 68 like many of my colleagues and my fiancee on the new one!!) And where is the proof of all this "no pensions" stuff? I have seen nothing to suggest to me the government is gonna scrap pensions and leave us to rot! Somewhat counter productive i think!

    Report this comment

    simon taylor

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

  • simon t, You need to change the newspapers you read...No FT, No Comment!!!!!

    Report this comment

    nrg

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

  • ***Miss Larson, must try better with your search engines, for the hard of thinking, it's in Excel format and downloadable for the native masses****. You are making it up nrg ( aka Norton ) . Provide the title of this document , the year and month it was published , and on what page exactly it says that 20.8% of births at the NNUH in 2011 were to foreign mothers.

    Report this comment

    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

  • *** " AE, keep looking, it's there." *** I wouldn't bother , nrg simply makes things up and lives in a twilight zone of paranoid conspiracy theories. He also claims to have evidence the 33 Chilean miners famously trapped underground for 69 days were never underground at all and were living it up in the Santiago Hilton for the duration.

    Report this comment

    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

  • The surge is due to the number of Foreign Nationals who are swamping the Maternity Units.This is something we have to pay for and includes interrupters fees.They pay nothing and move on the free Housing ladder!

    Report this comment

    dave123

    Monday, September 17, 2012

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