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22.12.16

RCM fearful that maternity services ‘not a priority’ for STPs

Half of all new STPs for the NHS across England do not mention or include very little detail about maternity services, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has discovered.

New analysis made by the RCM of 35 STPs out of the 44 footprints found little or no reference to maternity transformation in many STPs, with this being a particular blind spot in areas outside London.

Areas making no mention of maternity services at all in their plans include West Yorkshire, Bristol, North Somerset & Gloucestershire and Kent & Medway, with the likes of Lancashire, Cheshire & Merseyside and Derbyshire only making passing references with minimal detail.

Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the RCM, said: “When there is meant to be a programme of maternity services transformation it is disappointing that there is little or no reference to this in so many of the plans which will drive service change.

“This may be simply an issue of timing with the Maternity Review reporting whilst the STPs were being worked up but it does raise a possibility that change in maternity services is just not considered to be a priority.”

The analysis found that some areas do include substantial information on their plans for maternity services, including areas in the north east, Humberside, the West Midlands and large parts of the south west.

London in particular leads the way on maternity with all the STPs for the capital including substantial detail about plans for maternity services.

All STPs should include how they will meet and deliver the aims of the government’s National Maternity Review, which was published earlier this year.

The review recommended that maternity services be transformed to make them safer, more effective and more adaptable to women’s needs after almost half of maternity services rated by the CQC were found to be inadequate or requiring improvement.

Warwick stressed that more detail is needed from STPs in order to ensure that local NHS bodies are properly considering their responsibilities to improve maternity services.

“High-quality maternity services are the bedrock of a healthier population. It is where important public health gains can be made, leading to healthier mothers and also healthier babies with benefits lasting into adulthood,” she added.

“We urgently need to see the detail on how all areas are going to meet the recommendations of the government’s National Maternity Review.”

(Image c. David Jones - Press Association)

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