Midwives welcome funding to improve perinatal safety

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt announces spending on maternity care


The Royal College of Midwives has welcomed a move to halve the mortality rate in maternity care.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced a £2.24 million fund that will allow hospitals in England to buy advanced monitoring equipment, such as cardiotocography monitors, which can be critical in detecting problems at an early stage. It will also pay for training equipment, such as mannequins. 

A further £500,000 will be used to create a network that can help NHS staff review and learn from every stillbirth or neonatal death. The new NHS safety investigation unit will spend its first year focusing on maternity cases. 

The target is to halve the rate of stillbirths and neonatal deaths by 2030. In 2011, the Lancet ranked the UK the third highest high-income country for stillbirths.

Royal College of Midwives chief executive Cathy Warwick praised the funding pledge. She said: ‘This is an important initiative. It is critical that all of us involved in maternity care work to reduce tragic outcomes. Much excellent work is already going on in this respect.

‘The RCM will be pleased to work with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, policymakers and midwives to support hard-working professional teams to achieve even more progress.

‘As we do this we also need to ensure contributory factors to poor outcomes, such as social exclusion and poverty are addressed.’

Maternity services will be asked to suggest actions, such as appointing maternity safety champions to report to their boards, and ensuring all staff have the right training to identify the risks and symptoms of poor perinatal mental health.

In December, data will be published for the first time on MyNHS showing how maternity services are performing.

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