I was surprised at your news article on shortages of midwives and the Royal College of Midwives' evidence to the pay review body (pages 8-9, 9 November).

At no time has the RCM linked its call for better pay and working conditions for midwives to the report, Reconfiguring Maternity Services, as the article implies.

My concerns are that the positive plans for the future of maternity services outlined in the NHS plan are at risk if steps are not taken to encourage qualified midwives back into the profession and new midwives into training.

Our evidence to the review body focuses on three areas: a substantial pay uplift, substantial increases in on-call allowances and the consolidation of discretionary incremental points onto the top of grades F, G, H and I.

Our recent research shows that 10,000 qualified midwives could be encouraged to return to practice provided stress levels are reduced and more flexible working practices are introduced.

Midwives deliver womencentred care across a whole range of settings, from the home to birth centres and acute hospitals.

Our recommendations for improving maternity services apply to the complete spectrum of service delivery. The report on reconfiguring maternity services relates only to hospitals.

Karlene Davis General secretary Royal College of Midwives