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Continuity of carer delivers better maternity care says RCM launching new publication

1 November, 2017

Continuity of carer delivers better maternity care says RCM launching new publication

The quality of maternity care for women can be improved through better continuity of carer says the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) launching an updated publication on continuity of midwifery care today.

Continuity of carer is the woman seeing the same midwife or small group of midwives throughout and after her pregnancy.  The publication, ‘The contribution of continuity of midwifery care to high quality maternity care’ outlines how continuity contributes to safer and high quality care.

Continuous support in labour from a person other than the woman’s partner or family member delivers a better experience for women.* Women who have had continuity of carer are 16% less likely to lose their baby and 24% less likely to have a pre-term birth.

There is clear evidence that women are not getting this continuity of carer. In the last national survey of women’s experiences of maternity care in England in 2015, 36% of women did not see the same midwife every time or almost every time during pregnancy.    In busy maternity units, it is often difficult for midwives to give such one-to-one support, and 25% of women reported being left alone in labour and shortly after the birth.

Governments across the UK support continuity of care and carer. England’s Better Births and Scotland’s Best Start national maternity plans both underline the importance of importance of continuity of care. The Welsh and Northern Ireland governments have also expressed ambitions around continuity of carer.

The RCM also highlights the importance of the workforce in delivering continuity of carer, and ensuring their wellbeing and work-life balance are taken into account.

Commenting on the publication, Louise Silverton, Director for Midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives, said “There is no doubt that continuity of care and carer improves care for women. We also know that it is a way of delivering services that women value. This is why it is at the heart of government policies for maternity services.

“The challenge is to organise our services to deliver it in a way that meets the needs of women and the staff who will work in this way. But it can be done as those services that have introduced it have shown.”

The RCM publication The contribution of continuity of midwifery care to high quality maternity care’ can be read at https://www.rcm.org.uk/briefings-and-reports (link will be live from 00.01 on Thursday, 2nd November).

To contact the RCM Press Office call 020 7312 3456, or email pressofficer@rcm.org.uk.

Ends

Notes to editors

* Sandall J SH, Gates S, Shennan A, Devane D.  Midwife-led continuity models versus other models of care for childbearing women, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2016, see http://www.cochrane.org/CD004667/PREG_midwife-led-continuity-models-care-compared-other-models-care-women-during-pregnancy-birth-and-early.

The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website at https://www.rcm.org.uk/.

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