WOMEN supported by the NHS through their pregnancy are set to face major changes as the service ditches a key pledge.
In a previous review, bosses had stated that hospitals should offer ‘continuity of care’.
This, chiefs claimed, would improve safety for both mothers and babies.
These plans, originally proposed in 2016, would mean that women would have the same midwife from their very first scan, right until they give birth to their child.
Now the NHS has admitted that this standard of care might not always be possible.
In a letter sent to trust chief nurses, trust directors of midwifery and medical directors, NHS bosses set out ‘essential and immediate changes’ to the national midwifery programme.
They explained: “There will no longer be a target date for services to deliver Midwifery Continuity of Carer (MCoC) and local services will instead be supported to develop local plans that work for them.”
This could mean that different trusts in different regions and areas could have different priorities when it comes to mum’s to be.
Now, they said, the top priority for maternity services is to continue to ensure the right workforce is in place to serve women and babies across England.
The letter states: “Trusts that cannot meet safe minimum staffing requirements for further roll out of MCoC, but can meet the safe minimum staffing requirements for existing MCoC provision, should cease further roll out and continue to support at the current level of provision.”
Or they said, they should only provide services to existing women on MCoC pathways and suspend new women being booked into MCoC provision.
The letter was signed by chief nursing officer Dame Ruth May, chief midwifery officer Prof Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent and national clinical director for maternity and women’s health Dr Matthey Jolly.
The experts stats that trusts that cannot meet the ‘safe minimum staffing requirements’ should suspend existing programmes.
The letter comes as recent research by the Royal College of Midwives revealed that numbers of people taking up the profession have plummeted in England.
Data shows that there are 677 fewer midwives this year than last, with numbers dropping month on month.
Former health minister Nadine Dorries last year admitted that the country was already 2,000 midwives short.
Midwives are a focal point of a woman’s pregnancy and are in place to support women and their families through their journey and during the period after the baby has been born.