The maternity transformation plan represents an “exciting opportunity” for the midwives, the chief nursing officer for England has said in a blog to mark the International Day of the Midwife.
Jane Cummings used the blog to highlight the “important, privileged and significant role” of the midwife, their global contribution to care and their part in latest NHS England policy on births.
“Midwives have played a significant role in improving maternal mortality in the UK”
In particular, she highlighted midwives’ role in implementing recommendations made by the Better Births report, which set out the findings of the national maternity review in February.
She noted that the report called for greater “continuity” and “personalisation” of care, against a backdrop of safety principles that enabled flexibility of responding to what women wanted.
Ms Cummings said it provided a “platform for innovation and transformation” for the provision of maternity services, which she described as an “exciting opportunity for midwives”.
“The report clearly highlights the positive contribution of the midwife’s role in improving care for women and babies,” she said.
“Implementing the recommendations of the report in a combined way will improve the care provided by midwives and make a contribution to reducing perinatal mortality, not to mention a reduction in inequality of outcomes from maternity services and improved pregnancy and childbirth experiences,” she said.
“I think of the emotional highs and lows of the role”
She added that midwives in England continued to be “well placed” to provide women and babies with “safe, personalised, kind, professional and family friendly care”, and where every woman can access information and support centred on their needs – an ambition of the Better Births report.
In addition, Ms Cummings highlighted the contributions midwives had made to help reduce the stillbirth and neonatal mortality rate in England by over 20% from 2003 to 2013.
Equally, she noted that midwives had played a “significant role” in improving maternal mortality in the UK, down from 14 deaths per 100,000 maternities in 2003-05 to nine in 2011-13.
“We need to continue to work hard to further improve our perinatal mortality rate and midwives are well placed with colleagues from the multidisciplinary team to support the government’s ambition to halve the rate of stillbirths, neonatal and maternal deaths and intrapartum brain injuries in babies by 2030,” she said.
Ms Cummings added: “I would like to personally thank all midwives for working hard to ensure that women in England receive the best care.”
Also speaking on International Day of the Midwife, NHS England head of maternity Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent said: “For me, it’s a day when I reflect. I think of the privileged role of the midwife and the significance of relational care on pregnancy and birth. I think of the emotional highs and lows.”
CNO highlights ‘positive contribution’ of midwives
She added: “The global variation in the quality of maternity and neonatal care and, for some, the absence of a qualified midwife, continues to be a concern for me. Every woman must have access to a midwife.”
International Day of the Midwife, which falls each year on 5 May, was launched in 1992 and was the brainchild of the International Confederation of Midwives.
This year’s theme is “Women and newborns: the heart of midwifery”, highlighting that midwives around the world work hard every day to ensure women and newborns receive the quality care they deserve.
The Royal College of Midwives noted that it would be supporting the day in a “slightly different way this year”.
It said it was taking a break from putting on a celebration for some of its members and that it was encouraging more of the profession to get involved at a local level via RCM branches.
“We believe that IDM 2016 is important as we consider the sustainable development goals and what that means to women and their babies at a global level. We also want to whilst keep a focus on RCM branches celebrating IDM in a local way,” it said in a statement.