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Gov to provide extra cash for maternity

Posted: 12 November 2012 by Rob Dabrowski

The government has announced that it will be injecting £25m into the NHS to improve maternity wards.

Money- notes
The money will go towards helping mothers and babies and has been announced by health minister Dr Dan Poulter.

The news comes ahead of the NHS mandate, set to be published in the next few days, which will reinforce commitments around improving care, support and experience for women during pregnancy.

Maternity services will be able to apply for new funds to improve their maternity environments.

They can bid for ensuite facilities, rooms where partners can stay overnight or a wider range of facilities available, such as birthing pools.

This is being done in the hope that women will be able to give birth with more dignity and in more comfort.

Dr Poulter said: ‘A new arrival in the family is a joyous time but can present challenges for mums and families, particularly new families. I want to help women and their partners as much as possible.

‘Women with postnatal depression need care and support, not stigma. That’s why early diagnosis for this traumatic condition and support for parents is so important.

‘There will now be £25m available to improve maternity facilities but not a penny of this will be given out unless there is evidence that women have been asked about the changes they want in their local areas.

‘Whether it’s more ensuite facilities, overnight rooms for dads, birthing pools or other improvements to the care and experience of women during pregnancy and childbirth.’

Cathy Warwick, RCM chief executive, said: ‘This is a welcome and positive step and one that we have been asking for.

‘Putting maternity care in the mandate for the NHS will I hope help to ensure maternity services are a priority for the NHS.

‘However, we do need to see what is in the mandate itself before we can fully assess its importance.

‘The mandate is new and its effect on the actual service in the NHS is yet to be seen. The question is how do the government's pronouncements turn into improved care for women and babies? Essentially, how will the government ensure this happens?

'Any additional money is welcome – £25m is a relatively small sum compared to the annual budget for maternity services of around £2.5bn.

'However, it will help to make changes to the environment which can improve care and the fact that women are going to be part of the process of deciding how the money will be spent is very positive.'

She stressed that she hopes the money will find its way to the front line and that ‘positive commitments’ from the government ‘translate into better care for women and their babies’.

It has also been announced that the NHS Information Service for Parents is being expanded to cover older babies up to six months old and, by April 2013, will be further expanded to cover children up to 18 months of age.

The Information Service provides free advice that parents can trust through regular emails, videos and texts on the issues that matter most to them – including all aspects of pregnancy and baby care, bonding and relationship support.