Tories would give new mothers more help
The Conservatives are to consider adopting the policy as part of a strategy to improve post-natal care.
They will examine the Dutch ‘kraamzorg’ system, which employs health professionals known as ‘doulas’ to provide emotional, practical and physical support for women during and after their pregnancy.
Among the other options being considered are increasing and improving the role of health visitors, and extending midwifery support.
Conservative health spokesperson Andrew Lansley said the ultimate objective was to ‘give new mothers a degree of support on which they can depend’.
But Louise Silverton, deputy general secretary of the RCM, said the plan was ‘expensive and unrealistic’.
‘This plan is a distraction from the real issue, which is the chronic shortage of midwives,’ she said. ‘The £150m a year this project would cost would be more effective if it was invested in the existing maternity care system and funded more midwives rather than hiring and training new maternity nurses.’