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Update on NHS Maternity Review

Cathy Warwick, CEO
23 February, 2016

Update on NHS Maternity Review

Whew, at last the report is launched and now the challenge is making it happen.

The report should please midwives. It is all about women and what they as individuals need and its findings are based on evidence – both from maternity services researchers and from the women who use the services including those who have had poor experiences of care. The report steers away from categorising women and emphasises that choice and safety are part of the same equation. Services should be local where possible and high quality care is best provided through networking, collaboration and high quality communication between all of those involved. Antenatal and postnatal care are emphasised as being as important as care during birth with the opportunity to improve the general health of women and their babies in these periods recognised.

However many of you will be saying ‘we have heard a lot of this before’. What difference will it make? Well, in my view, that is the key issue. The report contains major challenges for the profession and unless we all step up to the plate, engage and think innovatively there is a real danger that nothing will change. Continuity of carer is a particular case in point. The report stresses the need for most women to receive continuity of carer throughout the antenatal, labour and postnatal periods from a small team of midwives. Most women currently don’t get such a service. How do we get from the present to the future?

The report acknowledges that change including this particular issue is not easy and cannot happen overnight. The plan is that following the report’s launch there will be an initial implementation phase in which early adopters will test the overall proposals. This will be  followed by a national roll out from 2018. There will be financial support for the early adopters as well as for aspects of the national roll out. The latter includes financial support to ensure local leadership to promote the implementation of continuity of carer. This will be very welcome.

However it is my contention that we cannot sit back and rely solely on enthusiastic early adopters or on future top down support. Midwives in all maternity services need to grasp the nettle and see what they can do to start to initiate the changes required. Lets not sit around until 2018 – lets get going and see what can be done now. The RCM website already provides many examples of services where different models of care are being implemented. We are supporting a conference ‘Celebrating Continuity Rhetoric into Reality, Policy into Practice’ on the 13th April. Click here for more details on the event. Other opportunities for learning, networking  and support will be developed over the year.

Please lets all ensure this is one report about which the cynics who claim all these documents just gather dust are well and truly wrong. We owe that to women and their babies.

Read the report> 

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