The Royal College of Midwives has made a plea to NHS leaders throughout the UK to protect the safety of pregnant women by ring-fencing maternity services in the current crisis.
There is concern that vital staff, including midwives and maternity support workers, will be redeployed to other areas.
Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the RCM, said:
“While other areas of the health service can postpone and cancel procedures, there is still an ongoing need for maternity services. Women are still pregnant, still having babies, and they need the care and support of properly resourced maternity services. We have to ensure that midwives and maternity support workers are ringfenced from any redeployment to ensure that women continue to receive safe care.
“Coronavirus is exposing the gaps that already exist in maternity services. The shortage of midwives has doubled since the start of the outbreak, a situation which is only likely to worsen as the pandemic spreads further.
“We have to protect the maternity front door and continue to provide the levels of care and support pregnant women need. We need to do all we can to make sure the maternity workforce is kept well and healthy as much as possible. The testing of NHS staff is an urgent priority.”