‘Continuity of carer delivers better maternity care’

By Julie Griffiths on 02 November 2017 Midwifery Continuity of Carer - MCOC

The quality of maternity care for women can be improved through better continuity of carer according to the RCM.

The statement was made as the RCM launches an updated publication on continuity of midwifery care today (2 November).

The publication The contribution of continuity of midwifery care to high quality maternity care outlines how continuity contributes to safer and high quality care.
Research has shown that continuous support in labour from a person other than the woman’s partner or family member delivers a better experience for women. 

Women who have had continuity of carer are 16% less likely to lose their baby and 24% less likely to have a pre-term birth.
However, there is clear evidence that women are not getting this continuity of carer. 

In the last national survey of women’s experiences of maternity care in England in 2015, 36% of women did not see the same midwife every time or almost every time during pregnancy. 

In busy maternity units, it is often difficult for midwives to give such one-to-one support and 25% of women reported being left alone in labour and shortly after the birth.
Governments across the UK support continuity of care and carer. England’s Better Births and Scotland’s Best Start national maternity plans both underline the importance of importance of continuity of care. The Welsh and Northern Ireland governments have also expressed ambitions around continuity of carer.
In the publication the RCM also highlights the importance of the workforce in delivering continuity of carer, and ensuring their wellbeing and work-life balance are taken into account. 
RCM director for midwifery Louise Silverton said: ‘There is no doubt that continuity of care and carer improves care for women. We also know that it is a way of delivering services that women value. This is why it is at the heart of government policies for maternity services. 
‘The challenge is to organise our services to deliver it in a way that meets the needs of women and the staff who will work in this way. But it can be done as those services that have introduced it have shown.’
The updated RCM publication can be read here