The NHS has acknowledged that pregnant women cannot expect to see the same midwife from scan to delivery due to staffing constraints.
Hospitals should provide “continuity of caregiver” to increase safety for mothers and newborns, according to a significant evaluation of maternity services that was published in 2016.
It recommended that women attend the same group of midwives throughout their entire pregnancy, labour, and postpartum care.
However, NHS administrators have now instructed trusts to stop aiming for the goal “unless maternity services in England can show appropriate staffing levels” in order to accomplish it. The healthcare system lacks 2,000 midwives.
Its admission comes a day after the Royal College of Midwives said they will put its members to a vote on taking industrial action over a salary issue.
The continuity of caregiver policy has been promoted by Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, chief midwifery officer at NHS England.
However, the model should be suspended until more information about its efficacy and the availability of sufficient midwives to meet minimum staffing requirements is gathered, according to Donna Ockenden’s report into fatal failings at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust, which was released in March.
The enormous demands that continuity of care models of care lay on already overburdened maternity facilities, according to Miss Ockenden, have undermined patient safety.
In response, NHS England noted that continuity of caregiver services should have enough workers, but it declined to suspend the model, claiming that it was still included in its plans for interventions to reach national maternal safety targets, such as lowering stillbirth and neonatal mortality.
The model is no longer a priority, according to a letter sent to all trusts by Professor Dunkley-Bent and chief nurse Dame Ruth May.
According to their letter, which was originally published by the Health Service Journal, trusts may continue using the model as long as they “can verify staffing satisfies safe minimum standards,” but those that can’t are required to “immediately” discontinue it.
Better Births, the National Maternity Review’s 2016 report, outlined a vision for safer and more individualised services.
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