A MIDWIFE has claimed the safety of expectant mothers could be put at risk if a staff shortage is not tackled.
Jenny Booth, a midwife at Peterborough City Hospital Maternity Unit, spoke out about the lack of staff in the unit during the Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Trust annual public meeting on Thursday last week.
She said: “We do not have enough midwives and are quite often left short of staff.
“When the new unit opened we took on 20 new midwives but even then we were already below our complement.
“It is now getting to a level where it is unsafe, so are there any plans for more midwives and continued funding for midwives?”
The hospital trust last week played down the significance of midwife shortages across the region after concerns were raised by the Royal College of Midwives.
Currently there are 129 midwives employed at the hospital, with the trust in the process of employing an extra 12 to address the shortage. It follows a baby boom in 2010 when 4,462 babies were born at the Peterborough unit.
Diane Lynch, general manager for family and public health at the trust, was adamant that patient care has not been affected by staffing levels
She said: “Every shift in the maternity unit is assessed for staffing levels to ensure that patient safety is never compromised.
“The safety and well-being of our patients always remains our highest priority.
“The trust has funding for 141 midwives, which allows us to have one of the highest midwife staffing levels in the region.
“Due to staff turnover, we currently have 12 vacancies, which we expect to fill by the end of the year.
“The midwife ratio is calculated by looking at the local birthrate. The trust currently has a ratio of 1:34, although we anticipate achieving a ratio of 1:31 once the midwife vacancies have been filled.”
Louise Barnett, interim chief executive of the hospital trust, reiterated its commitment to recruiting midwives and said candidates will be interviewed in the next couple of weeks.