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New report highlights benefits of continuity of care

14 April, 2016

New report highlights benefits of continuity of care

The medical benefits to women of receiving continuity of care from a midwife they know, rather than receiving medical-led or shared care has been highlighted in a new report. 

Jointly produced by King’s College London and Green Templeton College, Oxford, the report reveals that women are 24% less likely to experience preterm birth, 19% less likely to lose their baby before 24 weeks’ gestation, and 16% less likely to lose their baby at any gestation.

Women were also more satisfied with the information and advice they receive, the place where they give birth, their preparation for labour, their choice of pain relief, and their overall birth experience.

The report also suggests that although there are start-up costs associated with introducing a new model of care, the result – shorter hospital stays, and fewer tests and interventions – means that it will cost no more than current services, as well as leading to improved job satisfaction for midwives.

The report came out of a symposium held at Green Templeton College, Oxford in October 2015, which was curated by RCM president Lesley Page, and held in honour of the life of Sheila Kitzinger, a social anthropologist who campaigned on these issues.

Lesley said: ‘The symposium brought together health service leaders, academics and patient groups to help understand how the NHS might implement, scale-up and sustain continuity in maternity care, and ensure that more women in the UK have access to this type of care.’

The report follows the publication in February of Better births – the national review of NHS maternity care in England, which also identified continuity of care as a priority.

One of the report’s authors, Jane Sandall, professor of social science and women's health at King’s College London and lead for the maternity theme at NIHR CLAHRC South London, said: ‘The most important thing for continuity models to be a success is to control the caseload of midwives and to give them the autonomy to manage their working hours.

‘The findings of this report are informing our current research in south London testing a new model of care for women at risk of pre-term birth.’

Read the full report Relationships: the pathway to safe, high-quality maternity care here

Read more about the Sheila Kitzinger Programme at Green Templeton College, Oxford here.


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