Midwives raise their voices in demand for improved care
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
Tired midwives took to Ipswich's streets to fight for better services for staff and mothers.
More than 80 midwives and their supporters gathered at the Cornhill on Sunday to call on the government to increase funding to boost dwindling staff numbers, support training of midwives and students and reduce demands on staff.
Those in attendance told their stories of working 13 hour shifts with no breaks for food, drink or the toilet, leaving some considering their future in the profession.
Hannah Bridges, a bank midwife, said: "We feel so guilty and angry.
"We are there to care for women and empower women and give them the best birth experience. We can only do that if we are supported and looked after. We need to be supported to give good care. We need breaks, we need to make sure people have something to eat and drink and their emotional health to do the best for these women.
"Students had their bursaries cut a few years ago and have to fund to train and alot of them do not go one with it. They are unpaid, they are working full time and have to fund their training. Alot of people cannot afford to do that."
Spouses, parents, and children came armed with signs to show their support for their loved ones.
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Elsie, eight, said: "We need to act now because later is to late. We need to make the job safer."
Parents shared stories of their daughters reduced to tears after long shifts and impact on mothers who have experienced traumatic births due to understaffing.
A concerned mum said: "Everytime she goes on shift she is getting really anxious because of the experience she has when she gets there. They are in tears at the end of their shift.
"It's horrendous. They so want to care for the mothers in their care and they cannot give the care they need to give or want to give or the care the mothers deserve.
"She has been a midwife for 12 years and is thinking of leaving."
Those in attendance said for every 30 newly qualified midwives 29 are leaving.
And those currently students said they are concerned for the future, with many already juggling 40 hour working weeks with regular assignments.
One said: "We're all really concerned about the future.
"Alot of the time we are working 40 hours in a week, nights, weekends, days, on calls, and fitting assignments in as well. As students the majority of us have children and home lives."
Anthony Dooley, of Suffolk Unite Community, said: "I think what we are seeing is the consequences of 11 years of deliberate cuts to the NHS, all part of demoralising people to say the NHS is not working an
"Health care should be a right and not an opportunity to make lots of money."
A regional event called The NHS Bill: how can we push back will be held online on Tuesday, November 23, with speakers from health groups across East Anglia.
Vigils have been held across East Anglia including in Bury St Edmunds, Norwich and King's Lynn among 60 events taking place.
In Bury St Edmunds, a crowd of 60 people attended the march which left from the Abbey Gardens and went through town.