THE region needs a nine per cent rise in the number of midwives to be able to cope with the baby boom, experts have claimed.
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) made the call after figures showed the region’s birth rate has rocketed during the last decade.
The area has seen a 19 per cent rise in the number of births since 2001, with 30,826 last year, up four per cent on 2009, the highest regional increase in England.
The RCM estimates that at least another 91 midwives are needed to ensure mothers get safe and high-quality care.
There are 1,050 midwives covering the region, with a medium-sized unit delivering 3,200 babies a year.
Midwife shortages can mean mothers expecting a home birth are denied their wish and mid-wife led units close, permanently or temporarily, leaving women who wanted to give birth in them disappointed.
The RCM also says breastfeeding rates will not improve because there are not enough midwives to offer women support.
County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust has said it has seen a small year-on-year increase in births and is monitoring its midwife workforce.