Mothers 'to have a named midwife to birth and beyond' in NHS reform of care for pregnant women
07:14 GMT, 16 May 2012
Boost: Health Secretary Andrew Lansley will unveil the new measures today
New mothers will today be promised one-to-one care from a midwife and more support on the NHS if they suffer from post-natal depression.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said investment in a record 5,000 midwives in training means women will have one named midwife to oversee their care during pregnancy and after they have had their baby.
The move also means parents-to-be will have more choice over where and how they give birth, he said.
An extra 4,200 health visitors – who provide services for new parents at their home and in local communities after they have had a baby – will get extra training so they can spot the early signs of post-natal depression.
For the first time, the NHS will also be measured against how well it looks after parents who have miscarried or suffered a stillbirth or cot death. Patients will be asked to rate their care so the NHS can improve it.
The announcements are part of David Cameron’s plans to support the family – including radical reform of childcare, vouchers to pay for classes for new parents and NHS guidance on children’s upbringing.
Mr Lansley said: ‘No woman should have to cope with post-natal depression without help and support. The changes we are putting in place today will mean that the NHS is providing even more support to women who have this serious condition.
‘We have listened to the concerns of women about their experiences of maternity care, which is why we are putting in place a “named midwife” policy to ensure consistency of care.’
A recent survey found that half of new mothers said they did not get enough emotional support – including advice on how to comfort the baby and recognise different crying sounds.
Many complained there were not enough midwives on the ward and some felt too afraid to ask for help in case they were deemed a nuisance.
Others complained they were constantly given contradictory advice by different members of staff.
Mr Lansley believes the promise of one midwife in charge of care during labour and birth will give women more confidence about having one source of support and advice.
Where women do suffer post-natal depression, or have suffered a miscarriage, stillbirth or the death of a baby, they should get quicker and better support.
Care: Women will have one named midwife to oversee their care during pregnancy and after they have had their baby (file photo)
In cases where help is needed, health visitors will be able to refer them to counselling, with the Government investing an extra 400million in psychological and talking therapies.
Sally Russell, co-founder of parenting website Netmums, said: ‘We know post-natal depression is extremely common and yet it is an illness that is very hidden.
‘Most mums and dads find it difficult to admit they are suffering and yet it can be a blight on their lives.
‘Some mums are devastated to feel that they don’t love their child, or find themselves isolated with few friends, falling out with their partner, or unable to go to work.’
Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: ‘This is very good news for women and midwives.
‘Whilst there are more midwives now than ever before, numbers of births have been rising steeply and they are more complicated.
‘We know many women are not currently getting one-to-one midwifery care in labour or choice of place of birth. We also know many women do not always get the best care after the birth of their baby.
‘In order to deliver the high quality care proposed by the Government, we need 5,000 more midwives.’