WIRRAL midwives were among thousands nationwide who took part in vigils to raise awareness of a "maternity crisis" facing the NHS.

More than 40 March with Midwives vigils were held on Sunday afternoon to highlight issues with staffing and working conditions.

In Wirral, supporters joined midwives for a vigil outside Arrowe Park Hospital.

Wirral Globe:

They were organised in response to a recent Royal College of Midwives (RCM) survey that found 60% of staff were thinking of leaving the profession, nationally.

It also found that for every 30-newly qualified midwives, 29 are leaving.

According to the RCM, midwifery skills are being lost and the profession is being eroded.

UK Breastfeeding rates are also drastically low and continue to fall

Wirral Globe:

Among the Wirral campaigners who took part in Sunday's vigil was Jan Hemmings, who has been a midwife for 42 years

She told the Globe: "I was very happy to march for midwives on Sunday. It's a national problem and we are appealing for the Government to find a way forward.

"Childbirth is supposed to be the most beautiful and wonderful experience in life, but the pressure on Midwives is making the experience less so.

"Without midwives, childbirth would step back 200 years.

"Midwives are people too.

"Many, for example, working for 12 hour-plus shifts. They are getting paid for doing 12-hours shifts, then going home and sometimes working extra hours for nothing, catching up with paperwork etc.

"There are some who are really suffering from sheer exhaustion because of the pressures they are under, and this is affecting family life.

"The walk for midwives vigil was about asking the whole country to get behind us and ask the Government to start working with us.

"We need experienced, happy workers.

"A lot of younger midwives who have younger children are neglecting their families, because of the pressure they are under every day.

"I've been a midwife in Devon and Wirral. At one point I was a lecturer in midwifery, but came back to the profession as I missed that hands-on contact with the women.

"I've devoted my career to midwifery and the profession needs help.

"At the moment, there are midwives who can't do their job to the best of their ability as they are exhausted."

Wirral Globe:

A Department for Health and Social Care spokeswoman said it was "committed to patient safety, eradicating avoidable harms and making the NHS the safest place in the world to give birth.

"Midwives do an incredibly important job and we know how challenging it has been for those working during the pandemic.

"There are more midwives working in the NHS now than at any other time in its history and we are aiming to hire 1,200 more with a £95m recruitment drive.

"The mental health and wellbeing of staff remains a key priority and the NHS continues to offer a broad range of support including through dedicated helplines and mental health and wellbeing hubs."