Midwives are sometimes caring for three women in labour at the same time, and are  "overworked and overstretched", according to the Royal College of Midwives.

They said that there are vacancies for midwives in every part of the country despite a 16 per cent rise in birth rates since 2001.

Research for the Darzi review into the NHS reveals a shortage of 4,288 midwives despite the Government’s pledge of 3,400 extra full-time jobs (4,000 including part-time workers). The shortfall is estimated after comparing it with the NHS "gold standard" for safer childbirth, which demands one midwife per 28 births. London has the worst shortages with 1,150 more midwives needed to meet a 20 per cent rise in the birthrate.

The Government has promised £330 million of extra funding for maternity services over three years.

Yet, the RCM said funding for maternity services has been cut by £55 million.
According to Louise Silverton, deputy general secretary at the RCM, research shows nine out of 10 maternity units do not know where their share of the £330 million had gone, and believe it could have been diverted into other services.

She said: "It is not enough for the Government to say it has put money into maternity services, but then fail to make sure the money actually goes where it is supposed to."

What are you experiences on the job?

Have you ever had to care for three or more women in labour at the same time?

Have you seen an increase in funding as pledged by the Government?

Do you know where your share of the £330 million has gone?

Do you believe the money has been diverted to other services?