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Why recruit abroad when British midwives are on the dole?

Byline: DENISE ROBERTSON

FOLLOWING a newspaper report that an NHS Trust was advertising British midwifery jobs in Romania, a furious mother wrote to a national newspaper.

I quote: "My daughter, a fully qualified nurse with a degree, has joined 25 similar nurses to take a fully funded NHS Degree course in midwifery, completing in February. Out of the 25, 21 cannot get jobs in midwifery. How can this be if there is a shortage of midwives? Why spend money on advertising, relocating and paying salaries in excess of PS30,000 a year to foreign midwives who might not speak good English and haven't been trained to UK level?" I checked the NHS Careers site and, sure enough, there's special advice for midwives coming here from Romania and Bulgaria. If that letter is telling the truth and we are recruiting overseas while putting our own midwives on the scrapheap it's crazy.

The NHS spends PS700 insuring each birth against negligence claims.The number of stillbirths and babies dying within seven days is higher in England than in many EU states, 7.5 per thousand births as against 3.7 in Spain.

The most common reasons for compensation claims are management mistakes, problems after a caesarean section and errors resulting in cerebral palsy.

In the 2012-13 financial year, there were 1,146 clinical negligence claims about maternity care - the equivalent of one for every 600 births.

Watchdogs found that maternity units in England are overstretched. More than a quarter closed for half a day or more a week due to a lack of midwives.

Why, if newly trained midwives can't find jobs? The report by the National Audit Office said England has 2,300 fewer midwives than it needs, although 1,300 have joined since the last election. Andy Burnham, the shadow Health Secretary, says: "David Cameron promised thousands more midwives, but he's failing to deliver them.

"Across England, too many maternity units are operating without enough staff - unable to keep up with demand - whilst others are facing closure or downgrading. This is yet more proof that you can't trust the Tories with the NHS." But the failure to train midwives pre-dates the Coalition.

Seven years ago a member of my family, trained to degree standard and anxious to work as a midwife, couldn't get a place on a course. How many potential midwives were turned away because the then government didn't anticipate future need and are we or are we not recruiting overseas while British midwives languish on the dole? Everyone seems to be questioning whether or not shipbuilding in Portsmouth has been axed in order to keep Govan open and Scotland sweet before the referendum. The real question is why PS452 million is being spent on building four Royal Navy tankers in South Korea instead of in Portsmouth.

Apparently, they're not classed as warships and therefore the rules say they have to be put out to tender. Korea's tender was lower.

Not warships? And whose rules? If you're a Coronation Street fan, you must remember Curly Watts, the lovable binman whose wedding to the equally lovable barmaid, Raquel, drew 22million viewers in 2009.

The actor who played him was Kevin Kennedy. His book, The Street to Recovery, reveals that behind the scenes he suffered from an addiction to alcohol and drugs. He claims he 'would be dead' if it were not for the soap's producers, who admitted him to the Priory.

At the height of his addiction he suffered panic attacks if he couldn't get to the pub and once threatened to throw himself out of a car unless a friend stopped for vodka.

Now he has reclaimed his life, not touching drugs or alcohol for fifteen years.

He is appearing in the West End but his heart is still in Corrie. 'I would love to go back. I'm having an affair with theatre but I'm married to Coronation Street. I can't bear to watch the show. It is heart rending.' He can't go back as the goofy Curly though. I met him last week and his battle has produced a tougher and more handsome man.

In 2001 I flew out to New York to report on the aftermath of the attack on the Twin Towers.

I stood above the gaping hole in the ground where almost 3,000, some of them British, had died and was told that body parts were still being found on the roofs of adjoining buildings.

I interviewed a man whose only consolation was that the plane had directly struck the office where his wife worked, meaning she died instantly.

I saw notes pinned to adjoining railings ... "I love you, daddy". 63 babies were born to dead fathers as the result of 9/11. I interviewed Bernie Kerik, the Chief of Police. He told me that he dreaded sleep because when he closed his eyes the image of people leaping to their death to escape the flames was imprinted on his eyelids.

Last week two nineteen-year-old university students, Amber Langford and Annie Collinge, recreated those falling bodies as party of fancy dress costumes, the Twin Towers complete with flames and explosions. They won the PS150 Halloween competition at a nightclub in Chester.

The University of Chester and its Students' Union say they "utterly condemn the appalling photos which have been shared on social media".

The young women say no offence was intended.

They may have obtained the grades to get into university but if they thought those costumes would not be seen as offensive they are as thick as two short planks.

If they thought costumes would not be offensive they are as thick as two short planks
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 12, 2013
Words:943
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