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Maternity and neonatal care receive cash boost to transform services in Scotland

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Maternity and neonatal care in Scotland is set to benefit from a £12m cash injection, as part of a drive to transform services across the country.

The Scottish government’s transformation change fund is pouring £12m into maternity and neonatal care services to provide mothers and babies with additional support through a range of measures.

“We are looking at community maternity services right through to the care for the most premature babies”

Jeane Freeman

As part of the planned transformation of services, a new model for neonatal care will be tested within four sites in a bid to ensure babies needing the most specialist care receive the best start possible.

The model will also offer a range of initiatives to give mothers and family members the support they need.

Meanwhile, all expectant mothers will receive care from a primary midwife, alongside a small team, for their whole maternity journey, noted the Scottish government. In addition, support will be on hand to help parents with babies in neonatal units to help provide as much day-to-day care as possible.

The new model, which is designed to boost continuity of care, was first described two years ago in the strategy document Best Start: The 5 Year Forward Plan for Maternity and Neonatal Care in Scotland.

“Our maternity and neonatal teams are dedicated to providing the best possible care to babies and their mums in the safest and most appropriate environment”

Hazel Borland

To coincide with the announcement today, health secretary for Scotland Jeane Freeman visited Crosshouse Hospital in NHS Ayrshire and Arran, which will be one of four units taking part in testing the new neonatal care model.

The government has pledged that, by the summer, babies from Crosshouse Hospital needing the most specialist care will be treated at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, before returning to their local neonatal unit.

The proposed new model will also be tested between the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy later this year, the government added.

Ms Freeman said: “These steps to transform our maternity services will ensure mums, babies and other family members are all supported from pregnancy to birth and after.”

Scottish government

Jeane Freeman

Source: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

Jeane Freeman

“To achieve this, we are looking at community maternity services right through to the care for the most premature babies, where we know outcomes are improved when they are in a unit with a higher throughput of cases and where support services, such as surgery, are nearby,” she added.

“We are committed to providing all mums, babies and their families with the highest quality of care according to their needs, backed by this investment of £12m,” said Ms Freeman.

Professor Hazel Borland, NHS Ayrshire and Arran nurse director, said: “We are delighted to welcome the cabinet secretary to Ayrshire Maternity Unit to hear first-hand about the fantastic work which is happening here to implement the Best Start: The 5 Year Forward Plan for Maternity and Neonatal Care in Scotland.”

Overall, the Best Start report, published in January 2017, contains 76 recommendations which focus on putting families at the centre of care.

Professor Borland said: “Our maternity and neonatal teams are dedicated to providing the best possible care to babies and their mums in the safest and most appropriate environment.”

“A particular focus for us has been striving for continuity of midwife during pregnancy; and implementing transitional care,” she said. “This change in working aims to keep babies who need a higher level of care and their mums together.”

She added: “We are looking forward to working with colleagues in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde as Early Implementers of the neonatal model of care for the future in Scotland described in Best Start.”

Royal College of Midwives’ Director for Scotland, Dr Mary Ross Davie said: “Since the publication of the Best Start Review two years ago, the RCM has lobbied hard for this investment to be ring fenced so I am delighted that we have achieved this.”

Ms Davie explained how the RCM have argued that for “changes to be safe, successful and sustainable, midwives will need time, training and support to feel confident to work in different ways”.

“Also, health boards will need, at least temporarily, to increase the number of midwives in the system,” she said.

”We will also need to keep a close eye on what the staffing requirements are in a new continuity based system in the longer term – we know that hospitals will continue to need to have experienced core staffing to be available at all times, in addition to the community based continuity team midwives,” she added.

“The money invested by the Scottish Government must also be used to ensure that midwives have access not only training, but to the best clinical and IT equipment as well as sufficient transport to enable them to provide safe, high quality care to women across all the communities in Scotland,” said Ms Davie.

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