The English midwife moved to the island from Leeds thirty years ago.

Penelope Horsley Allet was for a long time the only English midwife in Spain.
She has been working at the Son Dureta hospital in Palma for twenty years and delivers up to 40 babies a week. There are currently 22 midwives working at the Son Dureta hospital. Along with Penelope there is another English midwife, a man by the name of Matthew Taylor, who has been working there for seven years. Penelope has lived in Majorca for thirty years. She came out here on holiday, met a man and came back to marry him. Previous to working on the island she was a nurse and theatre assistant for open heart surgery at Killingback hospital in Leeds. Knowing no Spanish when she first arrived, Penelope taught English until she could speak fluent Spanish, she then entered the hospital, initially as a nurse. It was difficult to get into the hospital back then,” she said, “especially into the midwife department. There were many midwives working in Spain as the schools hadn't closed so I had to wait for an opening.” Penelope had already trained as a midwife in England, but she had to do her exams again in Barcelona to qualify for work, unlike English nurses who come to Spain now. There was a surplus of qualified midwives at the time Penelope came from England, but now there are hardly any. She says “it's because they closed all the schools all over Spain. The schools have been closed for seven years, people have retired and there have been no younger ones to take their places.” The schools were supposed to close for one year because the training scheme changed and the authorities wanted a fresh start. They are only now beginning to open again and new midwives are coming through, but it is a slow process. There is still a great shortage and British midwives are in demand although the drawback is they cannot speak Spanish. Recently Spanish nurses have been streaming in to England to work due to a UK shortage.


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