Seven sites across England have been chosen to trial new approaches to NHS maternity services that include using small teams of midwives to share caseloads.
The areas will take forward recommendations that were made following a major national review of maternity services carried out last year.
The recommendations, in the Better Births report, include trialling a new staffing model that would see small teams in the community take responsibility for a caseload between them to ensure women are cared for by professionals they know.
”[These sites] are crucial to transforming maternity care in England, and the changes they implement will make services more responsive, personalised, safer and kinder”
The review suggested four to six midwives having a joint caseload of around 30 to 40 births per midwife.
Other changes to services that the seven sites are expected to look at include creating a single point of access for a wider range of maternity services, and work to improve postnatal care, and personalised care planning.
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The selected sites – which have been aligned to areas of the country that are producing wider proposals to change local NHS services, known as sustainability and transformation plans – are Birmingham and Solihull, Cheshire and Merseyside, Dorset, north central London, north west London, Somerset, and Surrey heartlands.
They were announced by chair of the NHS’s Maternity Transformation Programme, Sarah-Jane Marsh, who is chief executive of Birmingham Children’s Hospital and Birmingham Women’s Hospital.
“I am hugely excited to be working with our fabulous seven early adopter areas,” she said.
“They are crucial to transforming maternity care in England, and the changes they implement will make services more responsive, personalised, safer and kinder, as well as providing learning for the rest of the country,” she added.
Chief nursing officer for England Jane Cummings said she expected the sites would deliver “real improvements”.
“These seven early adopters have all presented strong clinically lead visions for transforming maternity services,” she said.
“The changes these sites seek to make will be wide ranging and test a number of recommendations from Better Births, such as making continuity of carer a reality for women, ensuring personalised care planning and improving postnatal care,” said Ms Cummings.