Maternity Services

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:30 pm on 20th December 2000.

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Photo of Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health) 2:30 pm, 20th December 2000

My Lords, I well recognise the contribution of midwives in the provision of services. The individual responsibility which they take provides a model for the way in which we want the workforce to develop. Therefore, it is important that we support midwives in their responsibilities.

I recognise the popularity of small maternity units both among women and midwives and I know that a considerable number throughout the country provide an effective service. The noble Baroness will know that there have been issues around the recognition of such units for training purposes which have brought into question their long-term viability. However, I want to reassure her that we are discussing with the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the Royal College of Midwives the best way to work together on broader issues around maternity units' staffing and configuration, which I hope will ensure that small units can be provided in future.

As regards regulation, we have recently finished the consultation exercise. I shall listen carefully to the views of the Royal College of Midwives. The regulations are concerned with upholding the public interest in the regulation of professionals but I believe that each profession must have confidence in those arrangements. I shall seek to ensure that that happens.