The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock has announced a new NHS maternity package for England. Mothers and new babies will be offered better support through measures aimed at improving safety, quality and continuity of care.
The plans are backed by the funding increase of £20.5 billion every year by 2023 to 2024 for the NHS in England.
Commenting in response, Professor Lesley Regan, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) said:
“We very much welcome the Government’s announcement of a new maternity package as part of the NHS Long Term Plan. This will help to ensure that the NHS is the safest place for women to give birth and for babies to have the best possible start in life.
“The maternity package will pave the way forward for improved, personalised care for women during their pregnancy and after birth. It is an important step towards further improvement of our maternity and neonatal services, with significant long term benefits for women and their families in this country.
“The strong emphasis on reducing the number of stillbirth and neonatal deaths echoes the major focus of RCOG’s Each Baby Counts clinical programme, which has identified that nearly three-quarters of cases are due to a complex, potentially avoidable set of factors.
“Recent funding for Each Baby Counts Learn and Support will enable recommendations from our initiative to be rolled out in local maternity units across the country. Furthermore, the Government’s focus on increasing pre-term birth prevention specialists will provide more targeted care for women at risk of pre-term births.
“The RCOG also welcomes the piloting of digital maternity records to improve continuity of care, together with the drive to ensure that women with incontinence are offered post-natal physiotherapy. This common complication of child birth affects one third of women after delivery and can cause serious damage to a mother’s quality of life.
“We look forward to working with the Government, NHS providers and our collaborative partners, in particular the Royal College of Midwives, to ensure multi-disciplinary team working in order to deliver the very best care for women, their babies and families.”
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The latest Each Baby Counts report, published in November 2018, found that different care might have led to a different outcome in almost three quarters of stillbirths, neonatal deaths and severe brain injuries across the UK in 2016. A number of recommendations are made to improve care on a national level.
Each Baby Counts: Learn and Support is a three-year partnership between the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives, supported and funded by the Department of Health and Social Care, that will work with a number of local maternity units to support multi-professional learning and clinical leadership, improve joint working and drive innovation from within the NHS.
The National Maternity and Perinatal Audit is a large scale audit of NHS maternity services in Britain. It evaluates a range of care processes and outcomes in order to identify good practice and areas for improvement in the care of women and babies. It is a collaboration between the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal College of Midwives, the Royal College of Child Health and Paediatrics and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
About the RCOG
The RCOG is a medical charity that champions the provision of high quality women’s healthcare in the UK and beyond. It is dedicated to encouraging the study and advancing the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. It does this through postgraduate medical education and training and the publication of clinical guidelines and reports on aspects of the specialty and service provision.