THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH AND MIDWIVES. [To THE EDITOR OF
THE " SPECTATOR."]
SIR,—Your interesting article on " Health Visitors" encourages me to hope that you will lend your columns to another side of the question—namely, that the increasing band of health visitors, desirable as they are, are being recruited from the sadly depleted ranks of the district nurse-midwives. This appears to be the result of the policy of the Ministry of Health which makes it increasingly difficult for a woman to practise midwifery, and at the same time practically bribes her to use her knowledge in some other capacity. It is no surprise, therefore, for anyone who has any knowledge of the subject to see in Sir George Newman's last annual report that there has been an increase of maternal deaths during 1919 and 1920.
The training schools for midwives are few in number, and those that do exist are largely filled with women who look -upon the certificate gained as a stepping-stone towards these posts offered by the County Councils, Urban District Councils, Infant Welfare Centres, &c. The duties attached to them may be defined as giving good advice in office hours, and, being paid for by the rates, any salary can be offered. They are naturally much sought after. On the other hand, the work of a district midwife is arduous, she has to shoulder the responsibility of life and death at any hour of the day or night, and the payment, as a rule, is not so good. It seems that the Public Bodies are tools in the hands of the Ministry of Health, and carry out their work more or less intelligently, and the nurse cannot be blamed for seeking less work and more pay. Those of us who are trying to help all sections of the community, mothers as well as children, hope that a saner policy will soon emanate from headquarters.—I am, Sir, &e.,
G. SULLY (Hon. Sec., District Nursing Association, Weston-super-Mare.) Avalon, 11'eston-super-Mare.