In the news today I read with interest the announcement of the UK government’s new maternity review, which as Sarah Boseley (@sarahboseley) writes in The Guardian provides “a blueprint for safer maternity care that offers all women the choice to give birth where they want, with the support of the same midwife throughout pregnancy, labour and the early weeks of motherhood.”
Following the terrible experience my wife and I had at the hands of our local NHS hospital for the birth of our son 3 weeks ago, this sounds like really good news initially, as anything that can help improve the care that mothers receive during pregnancy, birth and beyond is welcome reading.
In my previous blog you can read a bit more about my feelings on this subject, so I won’t bore you with that again! https://tireddaddyuk.wordpress.com/2016/02/07/is-a-healthy-baby-all-that-matters-during-childbirth-via-bellybelly-com-au/
Just as a side note, I want to make it clear that my feelings surrounding the NHS are in general completely positive, it is just that as a result of ongoing cuts etc the service is severely underfunded which means that staff (nurses, midwives, junior doctors etc) are unable to provide the levels of care and attention they want and need to provide, ultimately leading to issues and mistakes.
The Guardian article continues, “The national maternity review will recommend that women must each have a personal maternity care budget to be spent on the NHS care they choose – whether they give birth in a midwife-run unit, a hospital or at home. Uncomplicated births cost the NHS around £3,000 each. A woman’s choice as to where and how she wants to give birth will determine how that money is spent, giving her a greater say than ever before in her care.”
Now on paper I think that this sounds fantastic, more choice is always a good thing… right?… But, in this case perhaps not. My issue with this new potential approach centres on questions around information and education. If mothers are given the option to choose how they spend their “birth budget”, on what basis and with what information will they make these decisions? We attended NCT classes and had a tour of our maternity led unit at our local hospital, and to be honest felt really well informed ahead of our son’s birth. But, even if we had been given the choice as outlined above would have probably ended up exactly where we did… And had the same bad experience.
My fear therefore is that this new approach will not actually change anything at all, and does not address the core problem of funding and care which lies at the heart of the issues we experienced.
So, in conclusion of this rather negative blog, I am unclear on what this will really mean in reality should the proposed changes take place. Probably nothing at all – though the system does clearly seem to be broken so at least it is a welcome step towards assessing what can be done to make the experience better for mums and babies across the uk.
Would be really interesting to hear what everyone else things… Get in touch @365Tired
For those who are interested, here is some more background reading: