The purpose of this paper is to help RCOG Members and Fellows to understand the principles that should be adhered to during the planning and process of reconfiguring women’s health services and to assess the extent to which there is evidence that women’s services are of a high standard and of good quality following reconfiguration.
A key consideration for reconfiguration includes staffing of units and rigorous assessment of a woman’s risk profile. In any birth setting the role of the midwife remains central as the main supporter of the labouring woman but in the obstetric unit there needs to be immediate access to senior medical obstetric staff.
In the context of NHS reforms, the paper recommends that any non-NHS providers of healthcare adhere to NHS standards and pathways including the use of national clinical guidelines from NICE and the RCOG. Moreover, patient-centred care needs to be a priority, and the new Healthwatch groups and Health and Wellbeing Boards should advise Clinical Commissioning Groups using Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs).