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Continuity of carer: positive for all?

1 November, 2017

Continuity of carer: positive for all?

‘It may not always feel like it, but we have a real opportunity to make a once in a generation improvement in maternity services in England – so that they’re safer and more personal.’ That was the opening statement from Matt Tagney, Maternity Transformation Programme director, England, at the final question time of the RCM annual conference today (1 November).

‘[The improvement] starts with the Better Births report and its 28 recommendations,’ Matt went on to say. 

‘We have broad coalition nationally to deliver this… and we believe it’s what women and staff want.’

Matt conceded that continuity of carer, as set out in the report, is ‘not without its complexities’. And said there was some guidance coming from NHS England to help with implementing it.

‘For most of us, the difficulty with continuity of carer is how to implement it,’ 
said Jaki Lambert, consultant midwife, NHS Highland, who ‘knows continuity of carer works’ from first-hand experience.

Jaki also noted that because Scotland is a small country ‘we have ownership of change.’ 

Kathy Murphy, deputy director of nursing and HOM at Saint Mary’s Hospital, Manchester said that the evidence for continuity of carer was solid and strong.
‘The challenge is to have balance,’ she said.

Genevieve Porritt, a mother with experience of having the same midwife throughout her care gave a moving account of the huge difference it made to her and her son.

She believes that ‘if even the smallest elements of my experience can be repeated… it would have a massive difference on the wellbeing of women and children.’

During the question part of the session, one delegate asked: ‘How do you balance the needs of midwives, women and families?’ 

Kathy answered that the ‘overarching theme’ was to offer midwives ‘ownership of some of their working patterns.’ 

Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent of NHS England endorsed this view. ‘The ask from NHS England is to implement continuity of carer incrementally within the context of where you’re at,’ she said.

Chair of the session, RCM Scotland director Mary Ross-Davie revealed that the RCM was in the process of developing resources on continuity of carer including an i-learn module.

Mary also encouraged delegates to talk to RCM chief executive Gill Walton about what was happening locally. 

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