Midwives in the UK face an “unacceptable” pay rate that is “not enough” to keep up with the cost of living, a new report by the National Midwives Association (NMNA) has found.
The study, published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynaecology, also found that women are earning on average 25 per cent less than their male counterparts, and many have been working more than 30 hours a week.
The average midwife is earning £23,000, while the median wage is £34,000.
This means a midwife working full-time, 35 hours a year, will make just £15,000 over the course of their working life, according to the study.
The report comes at a time when women are facing the prospect of having to take a lower-paying job.
The Government has announced that it will increase the number of women working in midwifery by 100,000 by 2020, but many are worried that the additional jobs will not be enough to keep pace with demand.
The NHAs report found that the “high salary” offered by midwives to female patients is often not enough to make up for the extra workload, which is often shared between the midwife and the hospital, as well as other staff.
The midwife in charge of a baby can be paid only £15 an hour and while the number working part-time is growing, the average pay for midwives working full time has fallen by 12 per cent.
The survey found that in the midwives’ area of care, the median pay for a midwister is just £10 an hour.
Midwives are also expected to perform more procedures than they can, according the study, and this can add up to more work and pay.
The group surveyed more than 300 midwives in hospitals across England and Wales.
The majority of the midwoms surveyed had been employed full- time since 2007, but some were employed part- time.
Only five per cent had worked more than 70 hours a month.
The figures come as the Government’s Midwives’ Health Unit is looking at whether midwives should be allowed to work longer hours as part of their role, which includes helping women and children with conditions such as anxiety and depression.
Some have criticised the proposal as a move to “burden” the midwaiter with more workloads.
“The average salary for midwisters working full or part-timer is lower than that for all other healthcare professionals, including nurses, midwives and doctors,” said Dr Fiona Bevan, the group’s director of public policy.
“As a group we feel that midwires should be given the same standard of care as other healthcare workers.
We are not opposed to midwiring full- or part time, but if midwims work more hours than other healthcare staff we are calling for greater flexibility to support this work.”
However, the NHAs group says it does not want to make “the midwife a statistic” but a “person”.
It also warns that a more “structured” career may be in order for midwife jobs.
It is also encouraging the Government to review the pay structure and the number and type of roles that are being offered.
The number of full-timers in the workforce has been declining, with the number who are working in the community and those working part time falling.
A total of 2,769 midwives were surveyed, including 1,532 working in primary care, 3,564 working in family practice and 1,853 working in community and voluntary sectors.
About half of the respondents had a primary care career, but the study also found the majority were working in other healthcare professions.
“We would hope that the Government would consider supporting midwives who are actively seeking employment in community health and other sectors,” said Mr Davies.
The National Midwifers Association (NHAs) is calling on the Government “to recognise the impact of the changes to maternity pay” on midwives.