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New guidance published on continuity of carer

21 December, 2017

New guidance published on continuity of carer

NHS England has today (21 December) published guidance on continuity of carer in maternity services. 

The continuity of carer guidance – designed in collaboration with women, midwives, clinicians, leaders, managers, researchers and commissioners – sets out two main models of approach that will support the introduction of national targets. 

The two main models in the Implementing Better births: continuity of carer guidance are 'Team continuity' where each woman has an individual midwife, who is responsible for co-ordinating her care, and who works in a team of four to eight, with members of the team acting as backup to each other. 

And 'Full caseloading' where each midwife is allocated a certain number of women and arranges their working life around the needs of the caseload.

The guidance also outlines areas of the country that are trailblazing new ways to provide maternity services.

For example, a pilot scheme delivered by a social enterprise in Waltham Forest, north east London is ensuring that 80% of women giving birth know their midwife, while the national figure is currently 12%.

The NHS is committed to introducing continuity of carer to all new mums by 2020/21.
RCM CEO Gill Walton said: ‘This is a very positive step for women and for our maternity services. We know that continuity of carer delivers safer care and a better experience for women.
‘At the moment we also know that many women are not getting continuity. This is why this document is so important as it sets out ways in which this can be achieved.
‘Maternity services are, however, currently hard pressed and working hard to deliver the best possible service with often limited staffing and resources. Any change to the way that services are provided has to be realistic, stepwise and adequately resourced with the right number of midwives. 
‘Implementing continuity of carer across the maternity journey is a significant change in the ways of working for many midwives. Midwives are central to providing this service and they must be supported and engaged in any process of change, with appropriate education and preparation for changes in their roles.
‘Implementing continuity of carer across the maternity journey for women will need adequate funding and resourcing. The government must factor in additional money for maternity services as this moves forward. 
‘We will be working hard with the government, maternity services and with our midwife and maternity support worker members to support this process. There is a lot of work to be done but ultimately these will be positive changes that will benefit women, who must always be at the heart of the care we deliver.’
The RCM has been commissioned by NHS England to develop a continuity of carer learning module for midwives as part of the RCM’s i-learn programme. This will be will be completed by March 2018.


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