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  Midwives Friday 6 December 2002  
They perform a vital role in childbirth but there's now a record shortage of midwives.

This week the Royal College of Midwives held its annual student conference which highlighted the number of trainees forced to leave each year because of financial hardship and childcare problems.
More maternity units than ever before - including at least nine out of ten in England - are currently carrying unfilled posts.
Unsurprisingly London is seeing the worst shortages, but the West Midlands, the East and the South West all have vacancy rates of more than 6%. Rachel Schofield has been talking to midwives and new mums about the huge strain on the system.
Jacqui Smith, Minister from the Department of Health joins Martha to discuss.

BBC News: Midwives warn of staff shortages
Royal College of Midwives: Student Midwives Conference

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