Midwife staffing crisis as managers called to the front line

Amid an ongoing NHS retention and recruitment crisis, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has seen midwife staffing levels fall below the required level and would otherwise be at a point where services ‘will be impacted’. In an effort to boost midwife staffing levels, the trust has said it will be using ‘senior management and non-frontline midwives’ in clinical roles to temporarily plug the vacancies until the staffing situation improves. NHS figures show that the number of full-time equivalent midwives employed by OUH has dropped from 296 in March 2016 to 259 in March 2018, despite an ongoing recruitment drive. As of June there were around 26 full time midwife roles to be filled. An OUH spokesman said the temporary move for bosses would mean the trust’s required midwife to births ratio would be met and that no adverse impact on patient care was anticipated. To remain registered with the Nursing and Midwifery council, clinicians must have had at least 450 hours of practice over the previous three years to remain. However, concerns have been raised about using clinicians who may have been out of regular front-line care for a number of years.