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Midwife-led units quadruple in a decade

10 August, 2017

Midwife-led units quadruple in a decade

A large increase in midwife-led units co-located with obstetric units has increased birthplace choice for women.

The news comes in The National Organisational Report 2017, which describes how maternity and neonatal care is provided across England, Scotland and Wales.
The report by the National Maternity and Perinatal Audit (NMPA) is the largest evaluation of NHS maternity and neonatal services undertaken in the UK.

It aims to help maternity services to identify good practice and areas for improvement in the care of women and babies.

The report says that the number of alongside midwife-led units has quadrupled in the last decade. 

It finds that a fifth of trusts and boards offer the full range of birth settings and three quarters offer homebirth, at least one of the midwife-led unit types and obstetric units.

It goes on to add that there is variation in staffing provision, reflecting differences in staffing models and the absence of clear national standards for midwifery and obstetric staffing across the antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal care periods.

Mandy Forester, RCM head of quality and standards, said: ‘This is an important report that the RCM very much welcomes. There is much to be optimistic about, but it also throws up some issues of real concern.
‘The RCM is encouraged to see many women getting one-to-one care in labour, but want to see this at 100%.
‘We do however have concerns about what services maybe being affected to ensure one-to-one care actually happens, as this could potentially be at the expense of midwives being pulled out of community services, as well as it affecting areas such as home births and vital postnatal care because of existing midwife shortages.
‘It is worrying that so few women are seeing the same midwife or group of midwives. Continuity of carer is crucial to ensuring safe, high quality care. 

‘Another concern is that so many women cannot get access to their electronic pregnancy records; this disempowers women and needs urgent attention.’

Launched in 2016, the NMPA is collaboration between the RCOG, RCM, RCPCH and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

The report was commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership as part of the National Clinical Audit Programme, the National Maternity and Perinatal Audit. 

For more information and to read the full report, click here.

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