A new report from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) High Quality Women’s Health Care: A proposal for change, proposes changes to the way NHS women’s health services are structured.
Belinda Phipps, Chief Executive of NCT, the UK’s largest charity for parents, said:
“NCT and its supporters have consistently campaigned for women to make their own decision about where to have their baby, and for services that support birth at home or in a midwife-led unit to be available for the, at least, two thirds of women who are likely to have a straightforward birth.
“It is fantastic to see that leading obstetricians, having looked at the evidence, agree that birth out of hospital can and should be made widely available, as the preferred place of birth for many women.
“The RCOG’s proposal that services should be provided in managed clinical networks, with user representatives on the management board, is one that NCT wholeheartedly supports. However, we do not believe it goes far enough.
“NCT has looked carefully at the impact of the current Foundations Trusts or Health Boards system, and concluded that maternity services would be better provided in Maternity Trusts set up very like the current Mental Health Trusts. This strengthening of the network to organisation status would, we believe, be more certain of providing the benefits outlined in the RCOG report.
“For women and their partners, having a baby is a transition – a distinct life stage when social and emotional support may be needed as well as clinical care. Women and families need very specific care during the transition to parenthood, and NCT believes that care throughout pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period should be managed by one organisation or network. It is not necessary to organise all of a women’s healthcare needs – which will differ significantly at different times of her life – into one system, although there are some benefits to doing so.
“There is already very high quality evidence on what works in maternity, and this is to a large extent built into policy and guidance. We agree that this must be used to underpin commissioning, and welcome the RCOG’s suggestion that universal standards and guidelines should be adopted as part of commissioning.”