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Tories to pledge maternity support

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Funding for innovative new NHS maternity services are to be proposed by the Conservatives in recognition of the additional pressures that higher birth rates have created.

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley is to outline the proposals in a speech to the Royal College of Midwives annual conference in Manchester.

He is expected to say: “These plans will transform care for new mothers in England, from a service that is currently overstretched and patchy to one where every family gets the care and support that it needs.

“Labour haven’t delivered on their promises to give women real choice, to provide proper care during pregnancy and following birth, or to help those families that are most isolated and vulnerable. Our reforms will make these things a reality.

“They will give every woman world-class care and help our maternity services play a much bigger part in strengthening our families and communities.”

Proposals include drop-in midwifery practices in shopping centres, while prospective fathers or other family members would be offered ante-natal sessions alongside expectant mothers.

There would also be a greater emphasis on women being given the option of a home birth or in an accessible midwife-led unit rather than a hospital birth.

Health Secretary Andy Burnham will also address the two-day conference, and Sarah Brown, the Prime Minister’s wife, will deliver a speech to delegates on Friday.

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