Midwives must “play a far more central role” in maternity care, according to a government report on the future of the profession.
Delivering High Quality Midwifery Care said midwives should be the first point of contact for pregnant mothers, rather than GPs, and become the “lead and named clinician” throughout pregnancy, birth and postnatal care.
The document, published last week, has been developed by an expert group as a response to the NHS next stage review and Maternity Matters, the government’s strategy for improving access and choice in maternity.
The report said there should be more midwifery-led services commissioned, improved education and training, more academic and research opportunities and more midwifes on trust boards.
“We need to move from the situation where midwives are not always easily accessible for pregnant women to being the first point of contact,” it said.
The report noted that consultation and referral guidelines currently differ locally, which “makes care unnecessarily complex and potentially unsafe”. It called for national guidelines, such as those published by NICE, to be better implemented.
A foreword by health minister Ann Keen said the report would be used by the Prime Minister’s Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery. She said: “Midwives and the care they provide to women and their babies are of paramount importance.”