Midwives in Swindon have joined colleagues from all over the UK in calling for better support from the Government.

They staged a vigil at Coate Water to highlight a crisis, brought on by chronic underfunding and heightened by the pandemic, that they say has brought some of them to breaking point.

It was part of a #MarchWithMidwives national action.

Maritsa Clarke, 28, has been a midwife at the Great Western Hospital for five years and told the Adver she adored the job.

But speaking on behalf of her colleagues at the vigil, she said: “Lack of vital equipment and unsafe staffing levels due to the national shortage of midwives are sending many of us on a spiral of ill physical and mental health.

“We care for our women, giving them every last piece of our soul but we often go home with nothing left for ourselves.”

She explained: “Midwifery is a vocation which you have to love in order to give the best to the families you work with. It is a calling for many of us, and we could never see ourselves doing anything else.

“However, the hardship we are going through has made many of us reconsider our life choices and has made us question if we have the strength to continue on this journey that we have chosen for ourselves,” she said

“Day in day out we give our life and soul to the families we work with. Now, however, we are getting no respite. It is becoming harder and harder to recover from each shift.

The Royal College of Midwives estimates the UK is short 3,500 of midwives.

Its figures show 60 per cent of UK midwives are considering leaving, and 80 per cent of those planning to leave cited inadequate staffing levels, while 67 per cent said they were unhappy with the quality of care they were able to deliver.

And for every 30 people qualifying as midwives, another 29 are either leaving or not entering the workforce - meaning the NHS gains only one extra midwife.

Maritsa’s sentiments were shared by the other staff at the vigil. All said they were thankful to work with amazing colleagues, but they were drained, exhausted and struggling.

The midwives were keen to stress that it was a nationwide problem, and not one specific to the GWH, which they said did its best with what resources were available to support them.

A March with Midwives manifesto is calling for a range of measures including better obstetric training for doctors, a pay rise that will help to retain skilled staff and £5m of crisis funding to the third sector to provide breastfeeding support and antenatal education.

See the full manifesto here for more information.