‘Migrant Baby Boom’ Places Strain On NHS

Maternity units across the UK have turned away expectant mothers because they are unable to cope with the unprecedented increase in foreign national births.

Maternity services for foreign-born mothers has cost the NHS £350m, £200m more than a decade ago.

The rise of birth rates has been so rapid that some units have been forced to close to allow midwives to move to areas of more urgent need. The NHS said that is working to ‘build in’' the extra capacity needed.

Since the mid-1990s, babies born to British mothers has fallen by 44,000 a year, however the figure for babies born to foreign mothers has risen by 64,000 - a 77% increase which has pushed the overall birth-rate to its highest level for 26 years.

In central London, where six out of every 10 babies born has a foreign-born mother, senior consultants and health managers blame the lack of resources to deal with the pressures of migration for unacceptably poor standards.

Research presented by the BBC reveal that births within migrant groups can often be more difficult, more dangerous and more expensive - with much higher rates of type 2 diabetes, tuberculosis and HIV among mothers who often turn up very late in their pregnancy.

London's Chief Nurse, Trish Morris-Thompson, admitted that the NHS had not realised how immigration would affect maternity services.

"The timing of the impact is much quicker than we had anticipated", she said.

"We're working with our commissioners and our maternity providers now to ensure that we're building in the capacity they need."



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