Without immigrant midwives NHS maternity care would be on its knees

`To blame immigration for strain on service is simplistic in the extreme’, Royal College of Midwives replies to BNP


midwife.png18 June 2009: The Royal College of Midwives has refused to agree with racist British National Party’s assertion that immigration is a problem; and has openly come out in the support of the foreigners, describing them as an "asset" and "not a burden".

RCM General Secretary Professor Cathy Warwick said: “Let me spell it out simply and clearly. The Royal College of Midwives rejects absolutely the BNP’s assertion that immigration is a problem. It is not. This country has always been a country of immigration, and the people who have come to this country over centuries have contributed to its success”.

She was responding to an assertion on the BNP’s website that the Royal College of Midwives blames immigration for the pressures facing NHS maternity services. Her reaction in favour of the immigrants comes in less than a month after BMA said new immigration rules were endangering patient safety; and the changes in immigration rules could lead to serious shortage of doctors and add pressure on the existing staff

Warwick asserted: “The BNP on their website refer to maternity care, so let me take that example.

“A great many midwives were themselves born outside the UK, and without them NHS maternity care would, genuinely, be on its knees. Men and women have come to the UK from around the world to work in our health service, to provide care to the people of this country. Doesn’t their work illustrate the positive contribution that immigrants make? They are an asset to this country, and not a burden.

“On the issue of the demands currently facing NHS maternity services, the number of births in England is indeed rising, and rising fast. The total is, in fact, up a fifth since 2001. Indeed, there were more births in England last year, than at any time since the early 1970s. To suggest, however, that it is immigration that is the main driver behind the strain on our service is simplistic in the extreme”.

Warwick said they have seen an almost 50 per cent rise in the fertility rate for women aged 40 or over. They place more demands on the service than younger women. “Every year, the amount of medical intervention in maternity care increases and the number of babies delivered by caesarean section rises, both of which place extra demands on those providing maternity care. The welcome growth in the level of choice that all women can exercise over their care also, inevitably, demands more of maternity services,” she said.

Warwick added the growing complexity and quality of maternity care were, therefore, the main reasons why pressures on the service were growing. All mainstream parties recognised this and there was cross-party support for more resources for maternity care to deliver the first-class service.

“That is the approach that responsible political parties should be taking, not scapegoating foreign-born mothers for a failure to invest in more midwives and better facilities and choice for all women,” she said.

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