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Volume 453: debated on Tuesday 28 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate she has made of the number of midwives needed throughout the NHS; how many are employed in the NHS in (a) England and (b) Gloucestershire; what steps she (i) is taking, (ii) plans to take and (iii) has considered to reduce the shortage of midwives; and if she will make a statement. (103132)

Vacancy rates confirm that there is not a national shortage of midwives. The three-month vacancy rate for England has fallen from 3.3 per cent. in 2000 to 1.0 per cent. in 2006. The three-month vacancy rate in Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Strategic Health Authority was 0.6 per cent. in March 2006.

We met the target for 2,000 more midwives by 2005 ahead of schedule, and expect further increases in the work force as a result of increased training and return to practise. The 2005 work force census confirmed that there are more than 2,400 midwives employed in the national health service than there were in 2000.

Local NHS organisations are responsible for developing maternity services in response to the needs of their local population, and for ensuring that they have sufficient staff, with the right skills, to offer appropriate choices.

The number of midwives employed in the NHS in England and Gloucestershire is shown in the table.

NHS hospital and community health services: Qualified midwives in England and each specified organisation as at 30 September 2005





Of which:

Total specified organisations


Cheltenham and Tewkesbury PCT



Cotswold and Vale PCT



Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust




The Information Centre for health and social care Non-Medical Workforce Census