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Seven STP test sites revealed for ‘transforming’ maternity services

Seven local STP areas have been selected to test a range of innovative practices to transform maternity services, NHS England has announced today. 

The Early Adopter sites, chosen by a selected panel, will try out several new ways of working to provide more co-ordinated and personalised care, such as using small teams of midwives, creating single points of access to maternity services and better use of electronic records.   

These sites are dotted across England, covering a population of nine million with around 126,300 births each year, and include Birmingham and Solihull STP, Cheshire and Merseyside STP, and five in the south west and south east of England. They will share up to £8m in the next two years to support the experiment.

The Early Adopter sites are:

  • Birmingham and Solihull STP
  • Cheshire and Merseyside STP
  • Dorset STP
  • North Central London STP
  • North West London STP
  • Somerset STP
  • Surrey Heartlands STP

“I am hugely excited to be working with our fabulous seven early adopter areas,” said Sarah-Jane Marsh, chair of the Maternity Transformation Programme and CEO of Birmingham Children's Hospital and Birmingham Women's Hospital.

“They are crucial to transforming maternity care in England, and the changes they implement will make services more responsive, personalised, safer and kinder, as well as providing learning for the rest of the country.”

The Early Adopter sites look to build on the recommendations set out in Better Births, the report of the National Maternity Review published back in February of this year, with their experiences set to pre-cursor a national roll-out of initiatives to deliver safer, more personalised care for all women.

Local areas were invited by NHS England in July 2016 to act as Early Adopters, leading the way in developing and implementing changes by bringing providers and commissioners together as new Local Maternity Systems, an essential element of NHSE’s Maternity Transformation Programme.

Jane Cummings, chief nursing officer for England and senior responsible owner for the Maternity Transformation Programme, said: “These seven early adopters have all presented strong clinically led visions for transforming maternity services. The changes these sites seek to make will be wide ranging and … will help deliver real improvements to maternity care in these areas.”

Hospital maternity activity increases

The Maternity Transformation Programme’s announcement follows NHS Digital’s release of the Hospital Maternity Activity Report for 2015-16, which found an increase of 1.8% in deliveries in England’s NHS hospitals over the last year.

The report revealed significant changes in maternity trends over the last decade with the teenage birth rate halving to 22,032 last year and a 12.7% increase in the number of deliveries of mothers aged 40 years and over.

Louise Silverton, director for Midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), praised the successful teenage pregnancy strategy for the reduction of deliveries to mothers under the age of 20 but highlighted a drop in spontaneous deliveries, in part due to the more complex care required by the increasing number of older mothers. 

“This is a beneficial report that will hopefully inform clinical processes that will enable the NHS to deliver more accurate and personalised maternity services for women and their babies,” said Silverton.

“We must remember that this can only be achieved if we have the right amount of midwives in place to deliver safest and highest standard of care that every woman deserves.”

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