Maternity Services

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 10th April 2019.

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Photo of Trudy Harrison Trudy Harrison Conservative, Copeland

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to support maternity services.

Photo of Jackie Doyle-Price Jackie Doyle-Price The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

Our programme of transformation in maternity services will make the National Health Service one of the best places in the world to give birth by supporting maternity services to deliver safer more personalised care for mothers and babies.

The NHS Long Term Plan built on the progress to implement the findings of the national maternity review set out in ‘Better Births’ in 2016, and commits us to continue to work with midwives, mothers and their families to implement the ‘continuity of carer’ recommendation. This will mean that, by March 2021, most women will receive continuity of the person caring for them during pregnancy, during birth and postnatally. Within this, 75% of women from black and minority ethnic groups and disadvantaged communities will have continuity of carer by the end of 2023-24, as the evidence suggests that it particularly improves outcomes for this group.

We also aim to improve safety by rolling out the Saving Babies’ Lives Care Bundle to every maternity unit in England in 2019. The Bundle supports services in reducing still births, with a new focus on preventing pre-term birth. Every trust in England with a maternity and neonatal service is now part of the National Maternal and Neonatal Health Safety Collaborative, which is supporting practical improvements to make care safer in all maternity units. Through this, we are supporting a culture of multidisciplinary team working and learning, vital for safe, high-quality maternity care. By 2022-23 pre-term birth clinics, Fetal Medicine Services and Maternal Medicine Networks will be rolled out nationally to provide access to more specialist expertise to women, babies and the clinicians caring for them.

To underpin the improvements to care, the NHS Long Term Plan committed to the digitisation of maternity information so that by 2023-24 all women will be able to access their maternity notes and information through their smart phones or other devices.

In March 2018, the Department announced plans to train more than 3,000 extra midwives over four years. The Government is providing extra funding for clinical placement costs for 650 students in 2019-20 with planned increases of 1,000 in the subsequent years. The Maternity Workforce Strategy was published in March 2019 by Health Education England to outline how the requirements of Better Births and the ambition to halve stillbirths, neonatal and maternal deaths by 50% by 2025, would be met. This will be achieved through retaining experienced and skilled maternity staff, as well as supporting employers to upskill and develop their workforces through new roles and new ways of working. This includes rolling out the ‘Maternity Support Worker’ role with a national competency, education and career framework; and new routes to becoming a registered midwife, including via apprenticeships.

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