Retired Bristol midwife explains why so many are leaving the profession

Published on 4 March 2024 at 15:27

This is an article from October 2022.  When Peggy Woodward began her career in the NHS in the early 1970s, women could stay in hospital for up to 10 days after giving birth - not because there were complications, but because it was just the norm. She has seen pressures on the NHS progressively get worse over the years, and spoke of a "bullying culture" and long shifts where taking a lunch break is too often seen as a privilege, rather than a legal entitlement.  

The latest figures show that over 27,000 nurses and midwives left the profession in the last year alone, a sharp increase compared to previous years. Some of the key reasons staff gave for leaving the register were ‘too much pressure’ and ‘a negative workplace culture’.

The staffing pressures in midwifery have now led to the temporary closure of Cossham birth centre for the second time in the last four years, with all the women who were due to give birth there now being redirected to Southmead Hospital. A chronic shortage of beds, increased paperwork and unrealistic targets are said to be exacerbating the staffing shortage, all which increase the pressure on midwives.

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