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Wales has high requirement for maternity nurses as birth rates increase

Tuesday 30th August 2016
Birth rates in Wales have increased, leading to more demand for nurses with maternity expertise. Image: monkeybusinessimages via iStock
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There has been a nine per cent increase in the number of babies being born in Wales over the past 15 years, creating high demand for more nurses to enter the country's healthcare system.

New figures from the Office for National Statistics show that a total of 33,361 births were recorded in Wales during 2015, marking a significant increase from the figure recorded in 2001.

However, hospital staffing levels have not necessarily kept up with the increase in the country's birth rate, meaning that maternity patients and newborns may have their care compromised due to inadequate staffing levels, potentially putting their health at risk.

Welsh birth rates

Although the number of births recorded in Wales in 2015 was one per cent lower than the total for the previous 12 months, an overall rise of nine per cent was reported for the past decade.

The number of young mothers (aged 20 and under) has fallen markedly since 2005, with just 4.6 per cent of babies being born to women under 20 in comparison to 9.5 per cent of live births ten years ago.

In addition, it was noted that fewer young mothers are choosing to breastfeed than have done in the past, while significant variations were seen regarding take-up of breastfeeding across Wales as a whole. The Powys Teaching Local Health Board reported that almost three-quarters (72 per cent) of the new mothers it cared for chose to breastfeed, in comparison to just 50 per cent of those being looked after by the Cwm Taf University Local Health Board.

Meanwhile, the number of home births recorded throughout Wales declined between 2005 and 2015, which is another factor leading to an increase in demand for midwives and maternity nurses in Welsh hospitals.

How this impacts demand for nurses in Wales

As a result of the increased number of births in recent months, demand for nurses, particularly for those who specialise in maternity care, has also risen, with the RCM calling for more training places to be created to ensure the best possible standards of care can be provided.

However, this is not the only factor that is driving increased demand for more nurses in Wales at the moment.

Commenting on the ONS data, Vicky Richards, national officer for the Royal College of Midwives in Wales, explained: "In terms of pressure on services, the slight fall in births is offset by the increasing complexity of births. Demands on services remain extremely high and we continue to see Welsh maternity services facing huge pressures.

"Wales has an ageing midwifery workforce with many midwives approaching retirement. It is imperative that the Welsh government takes heed of the these issues when planning for midwifery training places in the future. This is so we can continue to have safe, sustainable services and that we have enough midwives to ensure that women, babies and their families get the best possible care."

Written by James Puckle

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