RCM welcomes removal of continuity of carer targets

on 21 September 2022 Midwifery Midwives Antenatal / Prenatal Expectant Mothers RCOG - Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Reproductive Health Women Midwifery Continuity of Carer - MCOC

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has welcomed the decision by NHS England to remove all targets for the implementation of midwifery continuity of carer. The decision, which is effective immediately, is being communicated to the system today (21 September).

The letter also recognises the continued and endemic workforce challenges faces by maternity services, something the RCM has consistently raised with politicians and policy-makers.

Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the RCM, said:

“I’m so pleased that NHS England has listened to what we and our members have been saying and removed the targets for implementation of midwifery continuity of carer. We know that target-driven healthcare doesn’t work – and it especially doesn’t work in maternity services. We have consistently said that services should be supported to develop plans that work for them, meeting the needs of staff and, importantly, of the women and families using those services. It’s great that NHS England has accepted this and will support this approach going forward.”

The letter also states that support around continuity of carer will be focussed on women from Black, Asian and mixed ethnicity backgrounds, where outcomes have been significantly poorer than among white women. This targeted support has already delivered positive results in some trusts.

Gill added:

“Every midwife and maternity support worker wants the women and families in their care to receive the best support through pregnancy, labour, birth and in the postnatal period. The pressure of delivering against targets, rather than providing the best, personalised care, has led many to leave the profession, taking with them years of experience. I really hope this significant shift in policy will help stem the tide of staff leaving the service.

“We have long called for a proper plan for meternity services that makes good on the promise that the UK should be the safest place in the world to be pregnant and give birth. I’m delighted that this letter also refers to a national plan for the delivery of maternity services, and I look forward to the RCM being able to input into that plan.”