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Rising birth rate ‘will put pressure on GPs’

GP practices face heavier workloads from new mothers and babies as birth rates continue to rise, a report from Royal College of Midwives has warned.

The College published its second State of Maternity Services report today, which shows that birth rates have risen significantly in many UK regions.

The report states that there were 688,120 babies born in England in 2011, the highest number for 40 years, and that the Office for National Statistics predicts the figure could be 35,000 higher per year by 2014. The England-wide rise between 2002 and 2011 was 21.6%.

A significant reason for the change is the increasing number of women across the UK in the 35 to 44 years age range giving birth.

The number of births in Scotland in 2011 was 7,000 higher than in 2002, although the figures have been dropping in the last three years.  Wales’ baby boom has slowed, although the number born in 2011 was 16% higher than in 2001. There were 25,273 babies born in Northern Ireland, up 15% on 2001.

Louise Silverton, RCM director of midwifery said: ‘The increase in the birth rate will continue to impact on GPs because women go back to them when their babies have coughs and other problems.

‘After people with long term conditions, mothers with babies are among the highest users of GP surgeries.  I’d be very surprised if GPs have not already noticed the difference.’