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NHS chief pays tribute to midwives on his return to maternity ward

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NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens has returned to the hospital where one of his children was born to pay tribute to midwifes to coincide with International Day of the Midwife.

Mr Stevens visited St Thomas’ maternity ward in London to record a message praising the role midwives play in the lives of new families “delivering excellent care at one of the most special times in their times”.

NHS England

Simon Stevens

Simon Stevens

There are around 26,500 midwives working in England and thanks to their hard work and dedication there has never been a better time to have a child, noted NHS England.

Mr Stevens said: “As children, we don’t remember who was there alongside us at the point we were born, but as parents we certainly remember the contribution and the compassion of the midwife who helped us bring our children into the world.

“Today is not only a moment to say thank you, but to celebrate the fact that midwifery services and maternity services across the NHS have never been safer, and the vast majority of mums and dads say they have a fantastic experience,” he said.

The NHS Long Term Plan, published in January, sets out further improvements in midwifery services to “give every child the best start in life and more women more control over their care”.

The plan aims to give over a third of women the opportunity to benefit from continuity of carer by March 2020, rising to more than half my March 2021, said NHS England today.

To carry this out, the government arms’-length body said it would invest in “our growing number of midwives, giving them the opportunity to enhance and maintain their skills”.

Meanwhile, recently appointed chief midwifery officer for the NHS in England, Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, reflected in a blog on how midwives were “leading the way” with quality care for women and babies.

“As England’s first chief midwifery officer for the NHS, I want the role of the midwife to be understood and known for the expert, skilled, personal and unique contribution midwives make during a woman’s pregnancy, birth and postnatal experience, making sure that all women are given the right information to make safe choices that are heard and respected,” she said.

The chief nursing officers of the four UK countries also tweeted messages of support for midwives.

International Day of the Midwife occurs each year on 5 May and is organised by the International Confederation of Midwives.

The global event, designed to recognise and celebrate the work of midwives, has been held each year since 1992.

The confederation also sets a campaign theme for the day to motivate its member associations around the world to raise awareness about the status of midwives and the care they provide.

This year’s theme is “Midwives: defenders of women’s rights”.

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