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Peer announced as chair of national review of maternity in England

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Baroness Julia Cumberlege is to lead the major review of maternity services that is intended to “modernise” care for women and babies, NHS England has announced.

The baroness is vice president of the Royal College of Midwives and a patron of the National Childbirth Trust.

She previously led a major review of maternity care in the 1990s, producing the Changing Childbirth expert maternity group report for the Department of Health. 

“I will welcome the ideas of parents and professionals alike”

Julia Cumberlege

The review will assess current maternity care provision and consider how services should be developed to meet the “changing needs” of women and babies, in particular the idea that more people would prefer to give birth at home or in community settings.

The work was trailed in the NHS five-year plan – the Five Year Forward View. Its terms of reference were published earlier this month in the wake of the report into maternity care failings at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.  

Among its terms of reference, her review team has been asked to make evidence-based recommendations on safe and efficient models of maternity services, including midwife-led units.

It will also look at how the NHS can ensure it supports NHS staff, including midwives to provide responsive care, and how it supports and enables women to make safe and appropriate choices of maternity care for them and their babies.

The review has been asked by NHS England to report its findings by the end of the year.

National maternity review

Baroness Julia Cumberlege

Baroness Cumberlege said: “I see this review as an opportunity for parents to shape the services they want professionals to deliver.

“The team will travel widely in England to listen and to seek out and assess innovative models of care here and abroad,” she said. “I will welcome the ideas of parents and professionals alike.”

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, added: “The time is right to take stock, and consider how we can best deliver maternity care safely in every part of the country, while better meeting the high expectations women and their families rightly have.

“Under Julia’s leadership, we need this review to independently assess the evidence – from this country and overseas – on how we can improve care for women, babies and their families,” he said. 

A full list of review team members will be confirmed soon. At present, they include:

  • Sir Cyril Chantler (vice chair)
  • Professor Cathy Warwick, Royal College of Midwives, chief executive
  • Dr David Richmond, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, president
  • Annie Francis, Neighbourhood Midwives, chief executive
  • Sarah Noble, consultant midwife, Birmingham Women’s NHS Foundation Trust
  • Elizabeth Duff, NCT, senior policy adviser
  • Alison Baum, Best Beginnings, chief executive
  • Rowan Davies, Mumsnet, head of policy and campaigns
  • James Titcombe, Morecambe Bay parent and CQC adviser on safety
  • Dr Alan Fenton, Consultant Neonatal Paediatrician, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Hospitals NHS FT
  • Professor James Walker, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology, University of Leeds
  • Dr Catherine Calderwood, national clinical director for Maternity and Women’s Health
  • Dr Jocelyn Cornwall, Point of Care Foundation, chief executive
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