2am mumsThe latest National Maternity Review from NHS England, published today (23 Feb), has been described as containing some "radical elements" by Cathy Warwick, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and a member of the review team.

The review sets out recommendations for how maternity services in England should change over the next five years. It highlights seven key priorities recommended to drive change and improve the care that women and their babies receive, including the provision of more care in community settings outside acute hospitals and the introduction of NHS Personal Maternity Care Budgets.

It includes a Rapid Resolution and Redress Scheme for Birth Injuries and a discussion of how the maternity tariff may be constructed differently. Its overall aim is to ensure maternity services become safer, more personalised, professional and more family-friendly.

Cathy Warwick describes the radical elements of the review stemming from the fact that ‘all of these [recommendations] have the potential in different ways to make a significant difference to the way maternity services in England are delivered and will be taken forward in the implementation phase of the review.

’She added: "The RCM is most pleased that the review’s key priorities include putting women at the centre of care and believes that personalising maternity services will help to achieve this.

"The RCM has long campaigned for better recognition of the need for high quality care in the postnatal period and has previously recommended that every trust with maternity services should have a maternal mental health midwife in post to work with community specialist teams. We believe this would enable appropriate community care pathways and vital services to be implemented for women with pregnancy related mental health problems."

The independent review chaired by Julia Cumberlege was commissioned by NHS England in recognition that maternity services are not as safe as they could be and nor do they always give women the best possible experience of childbirth.

It follows an investigation into the maternity unit at Furness hospital, part of the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS foundation trust. A report in March last year found that failures in care may have played a part in the deaths of three mothers and 16 babies.

The Cumberlege review finds that obstetricians and midwives are "sometimes at odds". It recommends that they should train together, forging a better working relationship with greater understanding and respect for each other’s work.

While the review concludes that "maternity services have never been safer", the authors suggest that there is huge variation around the country.

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health President (RCPCH) Professor Neena Modi also welcomed the report suggesting that "safer, more personalised services [will help] to break down boundaries between health professionals".

She added: "The Review highlights the importance of recording good data. We agree a set of indicators should be developed so we know how well maternity services are performing and what they need to do to improve.

"We are pleased the Review recommends that maternity and neonatal networks should be aligned so that they can share information, best practice and learning. Networks play an important role in improving the safety, outcomes and experience of services and ensuring joined-up co-ordinated care focused on the needs of patients.

"We support the recommendation that there should be a review of neonatal services to address difficulties highlighted with medical and nurse staffing numbers, nurse training, provision of support staff and cot capacity. But as specifically recommended in the Report of the Morecambe Bay Investigation this should be a larger national review of the provision of all neonatal and paediatric services, especially in challenging circumstances such as remote and rural areas."

Read the review in full at www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/national-maternity-review-report.pdf