HC Deb 26 January 1988 vol 126 cc197-8W
Mr. Alexander

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services how many staff midwives were in post on 30 September in each region, listed separately, in England and Wales in 1985, 1986 and 1987.

Mr. Newton

The information for each region in England for September 1985 and September 1986 is shown in the table.

Similar information for 1987 is not yet available.

The information for Wales is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales.

NHS staff midwives in post1: England at 30 September Whole-time Equivalents2
Regional health authority 1985 1986
Northern 520 550
Yorkshire 510 560
Trent 590 620
East Anglian 290 320
NW Thames 450 450
NE Thames 620 640
SE Thames 530 600
SW Thames 440 420
Wessex 430 440
Oxford 330 350
South Western 410 440
West Midlands 650 640
Mersey 280 330
North Western 640 680
London post-graduate special health authorities 110 110
England 6,820 7,150
Source: DHSS annual census of NHS non-medical manpower.
1 Excludes agency staff midwives.
2 All figures are independently rounded to the nearest 10 whole time equivalents.

Mr. Cohen

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the current level of midwife staff vacancies within the National Health Service and the trend of such vacancies on previous years; whether Her Majesty's Government has any plans to procure a reduction of these vacancies, by the recruitment and retention of more midwives; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Newton

I regret that information on vacancies is not collected centrally and no current information on vacancies is available. The results of the 1987 regional health authority chairmen's survey undertaken for the Nurses' Pay Review Body are expected shortly. However, the results of the previous surveys show that at 31 March 1986 2.7 per cent. of midwives' posts had been vacant for at least three months compared to about 3.0 per cent. a year earlier.

Nationally the number of midwives has increased by 16.0 per cent. since 1981. Action is being taken centrally where appropriate to improve recruitment and retention of such staff. For example, the new grading definitions recently agreed by the Nurses and Midwives' Negotiating Council will provide better career opportunities for those who develop their clinical skills and will improve incentives to remain in the Health Service.