Two leading Royal Colleges have welcomed a significant injection of funding for maternity services. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) have called the new money from NHS England and NHS Improvement an investment in safety for women, their babies and their families.
The announcement today means that, from the next financial year (2021/22), maternity services in England will receive an extra £95.9m year on year. A significant proportion of the funding will boost midwife and obstetrician numbers, and will also fund crucial joint training with midwives, obstetricians, and other maternity staff.
The funding is a response to the Ockenden First Report which recommended seven immediate and essential actions needed to make maternity services safer. The announcement contains funding for new senior posts including seven deputy regional chief midwives, new regional chief obstetricians, and a national Independent Senior Advocate to ensure consistency in maternity services across England.
Dr Edward Morris, President at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:
“We are delighted to see that such a significant amount of funding has been dedicated to maternity services. This demonstrates a real commitment to prioritising the safety and care of pregnant women and their babies, and improving outcomes for all.
“As an organisation advocating for women’s health and that of their families, we have worked hard with the RCM and NHS England to make this funding a reality.
“We are grateful to NHS England for accepting our recommendations for an increase in support in the number of staffing and resources required, particularly their acknowledgment of the vital role obstetricians play in providing safe maternity services. We also wish to thank NHS England’s Chief Nursing Officer Ruth May for working closely with us.
“The Ockenden report acted as a wake-up call for the system and highlighted key areas where improvement was urgently needed, including an over-stretched maternity workforce with limited resources, and challenges in organisational functioning, culture and behaviour. Many of which were further impacted under the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This funding will go a huge way to creating a much more cohesive system. One that enables all staff to be appropriately trained and feel supported and empowered to work to the best of their abilities in well-functioning, safe teams, while also allowing them to provide the best possible care to women and their families.
“We look forward to working closely with the government to ensure every penny of this funding is spent in the best way it can be.”
Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the RCM, said:
“This is a substantial investment and something the RCM has been campaigning on for many years. It will be a significant boost for our under-resourced and under-staffed maternity services. It acknowledges that they simply could not have continued ensuring safe, high quality care with the pressures and demands they are facing. Most importantly, it will lead to safer and better care for women, babies, and their families.
“Huge thanks must go to NHS England’s Chief Nursing Officer Ruth May for her efforts to make this happen. Now we must all work together to use this money to have an impact on direct frontline care as quickly as possible, so that we have the right numbers of staff, with the right training, in the right place.”
Notes to editors
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Key elements of the funding include:
- Additional £95.9m in 2021/22, and in subsequent years
- £46.7m to go to increase midwifery workforce with1000 more midwifery posts (1000 figure based on trusts having done BR+ assessment of need)
- £5 million to support recruitment of midwives from overseas
- £10.6m to increase Obstetric Workforce with increase in consultant time equal to 80 new consultant posts in 21/22.
- £26.5m toward multidisciplinary training and to ensure staff can be released to do it
- New national role of Independent Senior Advocate
- £4.1m for national/regional support - this includes:
- 7 Maternity Improvement Advisors to work with trusts on Maternity Safety Support Programme
- 7 deputy regional chief midwife posts
The seven Ockenden Immediate and Essential Actions are:
- Enhanced Safety - Safety must be strengthened by increasing partnerships between Trusts and within local networks.
- Listening to women and families - Maternity services must ensure that women and their families are listened to with their voices heard.
- Staff Training and Working Together - Staff who work together must train together.
- Managing Complex Pregnancy - Must be robust pathways for managing complex pregnancies making sure is agreed criteria for cases to be discussed/referred to a maternal medicine specialist centre.
- Risk Assessment Through Pregnancy - Staff must ensure that women undergo a risk assessment at each contact throughout the pregnancy.
- Monitoring Fetal Wellbeing - Maternity services must appoint a dedicated Lead Midwife and Lead Obstetrician both with expertise to focus on and champion best practice in fetal monitoring.
- Informed Consent - Trusts must ensure women have easy access to accurate information to enable informed choice of intended place of birth and type of birth, including maternal choice for caesarean.
The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance, and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences, and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website at https://www.rcm.org.uk/.
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.