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Call for better continuity in maternity care

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Staff in maternity services need more support to deliver the “person-centred care” that makes all the difference to women’s experiences of giving birth and caring for a new baby, according a new report.

The report on the state of maternity services in England, which pulls together recent research and NHS data, was published by the Picker Institute Europe, a charity which campaigns for high quality health and social care.

“Staff need to be supported to deliver person centred care”

Picker Institute

“Childbirth is one hospital experience that every user hopes will be unforgettable,” stated the report, which highlighted some encouraging progress.

However, it also identified a need to make services “safer, more personalised, and more family friendly”.

Almost half of official safety assessments of maternity services from December 2013 to May 2015 revealed shortcomings, said the report, drawing on evidence from the NHS Maternity Survey.

In that period 7% of services were rated “inadequate” for safety by the Care Quality Commission while 41% required improvement.

When it came to women’s experiences, there were gaps in support and information especially when it came to postnatal care, the report found.

It highlighted the importance of continuity of care, with women who see the same midwife for each appointment tending to report better experiences.

“This demonstrates the value of having an ongoing relationship with a single practitioner as a means of ensuring continuity of care,” said the report.

“Whilst there will be occasions where people need to see different midwives due to changes in staffing, personal circumstances, or preferences, it is important for as many women as possible to be given the opportunity to see the same midwife throughout their maternity care if they want to,” it said.

In order to improve experiences of care, the report stressed the importance of listening to the views of women, their families and maternity staff, and ensuring the right support for midwives and other healthcare professionals.

“Staff need to be supported to deliver person centred care,” said the report.

“To enable this, they should have the opportunity to work in high performing teams and organisations which are well led and in cultures which promote innovation, continuous learning, and break down organisational and professional boundaries,” it added.

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