The number of midwives in England is failing to keep pace with the rising birth rate, figures uncovered by the Liberal Democrats have revealed.
Across England midwives have seen their workload increase by 10% since 2001.
Figures released by the NHS Information Centre reveal that the average number of births each midwife handles has risen from 33.7 in 2001 to 34 in 2007, a 10% increase and the highest ratio since records began.
Commenting, Liberal Democrat shadow health secretary, Norman Lamb said: “After 12 years of empty promises, Labour has left maternity care in a state of near crisis.
“To find now that midwives are at their most overstretched since records began adds to the shameful failure of the government. We must increase the number of midwives and cut back on managers so the health service can cope, especially with the birth rate set to rise.
“If we want safer, world class maternity care then we must have ministers who know what the right priorities are for the NHS.”