NHS trust becomes first in the country to sign contract with a private maternity care companyTen babies have already been born through private firm One to OneService will provide women with all antenatal care, birth and postnatal care issuesRoyal College of Midwives fear deal could impact on jobs for NHS midwives
Private care: NHS Wirral have struck a deal for maternity care with One to One (file picture)
An NHS trust has become the first in the country to sign a contract with a private company to provide maternity care.
NHS Wirral has made a deal with One to One following a pilot scheme to provide services to women in the local area.
Those women opting to go with One to One will be provided with a midwife who sees them through all their antenatal care, birth of the baby and postnatal care.
This will be an alternative to the usual NHS services on offer, although One to One midwives will be able to go into NHS hospitals to deliver the baby if the woman has a hospital birth.
The company is now in talks with other NHS trusts around England and Wales about providing some of their maternity services.
At present, the firm employs 28 people, including 20 midwives, but is looking to expand.
In the two weeks since the contract was signed with NHS Wirral, around 10 babies have been born using One to One midwives, most of them at home.
It is the first time the NHS has signed a contract of this nature. The decision has the backing of the Department of Health.
The One to One website said: “Set to be the gold standard of midwifery care, the One to One personalised maternity service is delivered by a team of passionate, highly motivated midwives who have experience across all aspects of pregnancy, birth and postnatal care.
“/12/07/article-2071222-0F1831AF00000578-343_468x466.jpg” width=”468″ height=”466″ alt=”Claim: One to One”s website says the firm offers “a different style of care to hospital based maternity units”” class=”blkBorder” />
Claim: One to One”s website says the firm offers “a different style of care to hospital based maternity units”
“NHS Wirral continues to contract with local hospital-based maternity services providers (Wirral Hospital”s Trust, Liverpool Women”s Hospital, Countess of Chester Hospital).
“Therefore, women are free to choose the type of service and location of birth which they feel best meets their needs.”
Jacque Gerrard, the Royal College of Midwives” director for England, said: “The RCM is aware of the progress made by One to One as a maternity service provider, and we welcome it as an add-on service for choice for women.
“Personalised service that places women at the heart of their care”
“However, we have reservations regarding the impact upon jobs for midwives in the NHS.
“We have formed a professional relationship with One to One to gain recognition for our members, as they will be an alternative employer for midwives.”
The contract will initially run for three years and follows the pilot scheme involving more than 200 mothers.
One to One will provide all the scans and tests that an expectant mother needs in pregnancy, such as blood tests and the 12- and 20-week development scans.
Joanne Parkington, founder and clinical director of One to One, said: “We are thrilled that Wirral PCT has chosen to award One to One the contract to deliver our maternity care service to mothers-to-be in Wirral.
“The pilot and now the full contract are quite simply the first of their kind in England and Wales.
Not convinced: Jacque Gerrard, the Royal College of Midwives director in England, said the deal could “have an impact on jobs for midwives in the NHS”
“We believe they are the biggest thing to happen in midwifery since The Midwives Act more than 100 years ago.
“One to One aims to reinvent free midwifery services by delivering a personalised service that places women and their families at the heart of their care.
“Continuity of care has been shown to increase the normal birth rate, reduce hospital admissions and associated interventions, improve breastfeeding rates and boost women”s satisfaction with the whole maternity service.”
She said the service would “relieve the pressure on the existing NHS system and introduce a specialised service for teenagers and the most vulnerable”.
And the firm said that “among the most exciting aspects of One to One”s care is the encouragement women are given to consider a home birth if this is something they would prefer to a hospital birth subject to their circumstances and needs”.