The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has said there is a critical shortage of midwives in Ireland's maternity services.

Announcing the results of a staffing survey, the INMO said not one of the 19 maternity hospitals or units has the internationally recommended midwife-to-birth ratio.

It said the national average midwife to birth in Ireland is 1:38. The internationally recommended ratio is 1:29.5.

According to the INMO, the maternity unit in Portlaoise is the poorest staffed unit with a ratio of one midwife to 55 births.

The organisation is calling for better staffing levels and the lifting of the moratorium on recruitment.

It said that would allow for better care through safe practice for mothers and babies.

INMO General Secretary Liam Doran said it is an example of a staffing crisis in the country's maternity services that must be addressed.

Speaking on RTÉ’s News At One, he said: "What we're saying here is that we're short midwives across all Ireland's maternity units - that shortage is much greater in some than in others."

Meanwhile, student nurses and midwives are to stage a demonstration outside the headquarters of the Health Service Executive in Dublin today to highlight the pay and working conditions they will face when they graduate.

They are protesting against the reduction in the starting salary of graduate nurses, by €4,000 to €22,000, and the payment of below minimum wage salaries to nurses on their final-year work placements.

They are calling on the State to pay a fair wage for the work that is carried out during the training phase of their careers, when they frequently work long hours.

Around 500 students and their supporters from across Ireland are expected at today's demonstration.

It is part of the "Everybody Loves Nurses" campaign launched by the Union of Students in Ireland earlier this month.