The RCM has slammed suggestions made by the BNP that immigration is to blame for the pressures facing NHS maternity services.
The BNP had used an RCM survey to back up its claim that developing world immigration was destroying state infrastructure such as the NHS.
It said on its website: ‘According to a survey by the Royal College of Midwives issued in 2008, the quality of NHS care has plummeted because ministers failed to predict a massive rise in the birth rate among immigrant mothers.
‘Four in ten midwives questioned by the RCM said care was worse as a direct result of the rising birth rate – and it was putting mothers and babies at risk. Almost all – 91% – said the birth rate had shot up on their wards over the past few years, putting their units under intolerable pressure.’
The RCM’s general secretary Cathy Warwick said: ‘Let me spell it out simply and clearly. The RCM 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 says that a great many midwives were born outside the UK and that without them the NHS would be ‘on its knees’. She points out that the rising fertility rate of women over 40 places extra demands compared to younger women, along with the increasing caesarean section rate and the welcome growth in the level of choice that women have over their care.
She adds: ‘The growing complexity and quality of maternity care are therefore the main reasons why pressures on the service are growing. Thankfully, all mainstream parties recognise this and there is cross-party support for more resources for maternity care to deliver the first-class service we all want. 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.
‘The RCM is an organisation that celebrates diversity and the richness it brings to our national life. We are committed absolutely to giving every woman, whatever her background and wherever she is from, care personalised and tailored to her.’
Royal College of Midwives