• STV
  • MySTV

Midwives fear Best Start changes may leave them 'unwell'

New reforms aim to ensure mothers-to-be receive most of their care from one medical professional.

Fears: The Scottish Government's Best Start five-year plan for maternity care.
Fears: The Scottish Government's Best Start five-year plan for maternity care.

Midwives have raised safety concerns amid fears they will be "pushed to their limits" under reforms which aim to ensure mothers-to-be receive most of their care from one medical professional.

The Scottish Government's Best Start five-year plan for maternity care, published in 2017, recommended that every woman has "continuity of care from a primary midwife" throughout their pregnancy, delivery and beyond.

Midwives will "normally" have about 35 women to care for at any time, under the system, it added.

But in a letter, published by Scottish Labour ahead of a debate in Holyrood, midwives in NHS Lothian said that they "do not feel that it is possible to implement the proposals in Best Start with existing staffing levels".

They also raised concerns about resources, claiming: "We do not have enough equipment or computers, we do not have enough pool cars."

Working with a caseload of 35 women would "put too much strain on resources", the midwives claimed, stating:

"There has not been enough thought put into the detailed logistics of what happens when midwives are called out to attend births, or off on annual leave, on sick, on maternity leave or sleeping."

'There has not been enough thought put into the detailed logistics of what happens when midwives are called out to attend births, or off on annual leave, on sick, on maternity leave or sleeping.'
Midwives in NHS Lothian

They continued: "The reality of working in an already understaffed and stretched service which relies on midwives' goodwill and commitment to meet growing caseloads and ever broadening remits has not been considered.

"It is inevitable that midwives will be pushed to their limits and increasingly overtired, stressed or unwell. That is not safe."

The midwives said the concerns were shared across the profession, from "students, the newly qualified and those who have had long careers".

Labour has been calling for an additional £10m of funding to be allocated to help with the implementation of the Best Start recommendations.

Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon said: "Midwives play a crucial role in caring for women and babies.

The best way of recognising their contribution to our NHS is by making sure they have enough resources to do their jobs safely.

"That's why Scottish Labour is calling on the SNP Government to investigate reports about a lack of equipment and resources, and to provide an additional £10m towards the implementation of the Best Start recommendations."

She added: "The Health Secretary must listen to the concerns of midwives and take urgent action to address the workforce crisis."

Health secretary Jeane Freeman said: "NHS staff, maternity and neonatal service users, the NHS, the Royal College of Midwives, the National Childbirth Trust and Bliss, along with others, were instrumental in shaping the five-year plan for maternity and neonatal care. 

"It was as a result of their expert advice that a phased approach is being taken. The initial budget of £12m is only intended to support the initial phase. 

"The plan will result in mothers and babies being offered a truly family-centred, safe and compassionate approach to their care, with real continuity of care and carer."

Download: The STV News app is Scotland's favourite and is available for iPhone from the App store and for Android from Google Play. Download it today and continue to enjoy STV News wherever you are.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This must be at least 6 characters long.
ShowHide
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long.
You must be over 16 to join STV.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
We need this to check that you live in an STV region.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid postcode
Would you like us to email you about our great shows and services from time to time?
We'll only send emails we think you'll like (see example) based on information you have supplied and shows you have watched on STV Player. For details on emails and advertising, see our STV & You page.
Would you like to receive emails from the Scottish Children's Lottery about draws, instant games and competitions?
We support the Scottish Children's Lottery (SCL), which is managed by our colleagues at STV ELM Ltd. You can find out more about the SCL on its website, including its Privacy Policy.

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, and understand our Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.