Thursday, 24 January 2013

NHS maternity units to share £25m fund to improve childbirth experience

NHS maternity units to share £25m fund to improve childbirth experience: More than 100 hospitals in England will share money to modernise maternity units in midst of ongoing baby boom.

NHS maternity units will get new birthing pools, more family rooms so dads can sleep over and extra midwife-led units after winning slices of a £25m fund to improve women's experiences of childbirth.
More than 100 hospitals in England will share the £25m, which will modernise maternity units and help the NHS cope with an ongoing decade-long baby boom during which births have been at their highest rate for 40 years.

The maternity unit at Musgove Park hospital in Taunton in Somerset, which has been in use since the 1940s, will be refurbished with the money, as will the 1970s-era unit at Airedale hospital in Yorkshire.
Forty hospitals will use their allocation to install new birthing pools, which help reduce the pain and stress of labour. Eight will build midwife-led units, where midwives rather than doctors are in charge, which are thought to increase the chances of a woman having a normal, rather than medicalised, birth.
Almost 50 hospitals will spend the money on beds and family rooms, in which dads and relatives can stay and help expectant mothers prepare for their children's births, and potentially relieve the strain on often overworked midwives.
About 40 will install en-suite facilities so that women do not have to walk through the unit to visit the bathroom. There will also be improved spaces that bereaved relatives mourning the loss of a baby can use.
"These will make a big difference to the experience mums and families have of NHS maternity services, with more choice and a better environment where women can give birth," said Dr Dan Poulter, the health minister, who is also an obstetrician who still works part-time in the NHS.
Earlier this week the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) warned that maternity services across the UK were at a "tipping point" because the NHS has 5,000 fewer midwives than it needs to cope with the rising number of births. Women in England had 688,120 babies in 2011 – the most in 40 years – and Office for National Statistics figures for the first half of 2012 suggested that the upward trend was continuing last year.
The RCM chief executive, Cathy Warwick, said the £25m would result in "positive changes … to many units up and down the country".
Shadow health minister Diane Abbott welcomed the money but also warned that NHS maternity services were still "dangerously fragile" and that the £25m on its own would not change that.
"We see rising demands, massive shortages of midwives and concerns about the ageing midwifery workforce," Abbott said. The Guardian

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