Concern over supply of midwives as "retirement bulge" looms


8 November 2012

Lesley Brennan is raising with NHS Tayside the issue of how its workforce planning intends to ensure that there are sufficient numbers of midwives to replace  those who will be eligible to retire in the near future.

Midwives can retire at 55 and the latest NHS Tayside staffing figures (June 2012) reveal that there are over 90 midwifery staff in the age range 50-over 65 (93.2 in whole time equivalents.

The age range figures are :  

Aged 45-49    49.0  

Aged 50-54   51.1 

Aged 55-59 31.7 

Aged 60-64   8.2 

Aged 65+    2.7

In total the current number of midwifery staff in NHS Tayside is 240 (239.9 in whole time equivalents )  

Dundee University now no longer has new applicants for midwifery courses, nor does Glasgow Caledonian University, nor Robert Gordon University. 

At Dundee University, three years previously, in 2009-10, the new intake numbered 20.  

In the current intake in 2012-13 across all Scottish Universities, the numbers studying midwifery has dropped to 100 compared with 184 in 2009-10.

The National Records of Scotland indicate that the projected number of births in Dundee over the next 10 years would remain at around 1,700 per year.

 In Angus, the numbers would remain steady at 1,100. 

In Perth and Kinross, a rise is predicted from around 1,500 to 1,850 per year.

Councillor Brennan, who works as a health economist,  said,

“ The Midwifery 2020 programme estimates that between 40 and 45 per cent of midwifery staff will reach retiral age over the next 10 years.  

 “ Therefore, it is essential that adequate numbers are trained and are available to replace those who retire and so maintain satisfactory maternity provision.

“ To raise public awareness of this most vital of services, health boards should make available what information they have on their projected recruitment requirements for midwives for future years. 

“They should also indicate their estimate of the financial investment required from the Scottish Government to support this work.

“They should indicate how they are working with the Scottish Government to maintain the future supply of midwives.”  

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