Figures sourced by the Welsh Conservatives have revealed that one in three midwives in Wales are just a few years away from retirement, as the country faces a huge shortfall of skilled practitioners.
Based on the NHS’ pension age of 55, the numbers show the staggering projection that by 2023, 35% of today’s workforce will be eligible for retirement, and by 2028, this is likely to be 48%.
The data, uncovered by a written Assembly question from Clwyd West AM Darren Millar, notes that the percentage of midwives aged in their fifties or sixties employed by the NHS in Wales has jumped from 29.5% to 36% from 2011 to 2018.
Such experienced midwives bring vital knowledge to units, but sufficient numbers of midwives aren’t being recruited in time to replace the numbers leaving.
These figures come at a time when the numbers of births in Wales to older mothers is increasing, meaning that even more midwives are needed for births which do on average require more attention from midwives.
Darren Millar AM, said:
“While there has been a small increase in midwifery training places the most recent years, this is a case of too little, too late, for Welsh mums who need to have complete confidence that there will be someone there to care from them during such an important time.
“Welsh Labour Ministers have seen these figures year in and year out so there can be no excuses for not getting to grips with the problem. It is yet another example of failing to plan for the workforce needs of our NHS and letting down mums and their babies.
“We have already seen serious issues arising in maternity and neonatal care in Wales over the past few years; and some parts of the country have had specialist centres closed down because of an inability to recruit and retain staff.
“Labour Ministers must act now and invest in the midwifery workforce if we are to avert the crisis ahead.”