A FORMER Hollyoaks star who turned her back on showbusiness to become a midwife says she can’t find a job in the NHS crisis- hit maternity service.
Lesley Crawford, who played Laura Burns in the Channel 4 soap, followed her lifelong dream to train as a midwife, leaving behind a reported £100,000 salary.
But after qualifying with a first class degree at Liverpool John Moores University – at a cost of £45,000 – she has been unable to find work in Merseyside after three months of job hunting.
The 25-year-old is one of thousands of newly-qualified midwives across the country who are unemployed, despite a growing crisis in maternity services.
Miss Crawford, who lives in Liverpool with husband Joe, said: “It’s a complete waste of government resources. Tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money has been spent training me and midwives like me and we are sitting here unemployed.
“My class all achieved high grades but, out of 25 graduates, only three have been offered jobs.”
The Royal College of Midwives has said an extra 5,000 midwives are needed by 2012 if women are to receive the care they need.
It is estimated that, of the 1,300 students to have qualified as midwives in the past two years, two-thirds are struggling to find jobs.
Miss Crawford added: “The majority of students on my course had given up a paid job to do the course. Some were single mums and women with four children.
“If they don't get a job at the end of three years' training, I don't know how they are going to get by. Some are already leaving the profession because they can't find work.”
The former model will use her experience in the limelight to air her frustrations at a Royal College of Midwives conference in London this week.
She said: “Midwives can't fulfil their goal of seeing a woman through childbirth if they are looking after another woman in labour down the corridor.
“If you are sharing the care of two or three women, you are literally running between rooms.
“They should be with women as much as possible, rather than having to apologise every 15 minutes so that they can check on other women. Yet that is what is happening.
“Some women will find it psychologically damaging if the midwife leaves them alone.”
But, in spite of the pitfalls, Miss Crawford is still determined to fulfil her ambitions.
She said: “Studying to be a midwife has been the hardest thing I have ever done, but it is my dream job.
“I would never go back to my old life, despite earning a six-figure salary.