NHS Operational Planning Guidance announces £95 million boost for maternity services

on 26 March 2021

The NHS Operational Planning Guidance has been published, citing a £95 million boost to maternity services.

The funding will be used to create more midwifery and obstetric posts in the NHS, as well as provide more training and support for existing roles.

During the pandemic non-covid services such as maternity has been under immense pressure over the last year. The £95 million investment has been welcomed by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG):

“This is a substantial investment and something the RCM has been campaigning on for many years. It will be a significant boost for our under-resourced and under-staffed maternity services. It acknowledges that they simply could not have continued ensuring safe, high quality care with the pressures and demands they are facing. Most importantly, it will lead to safer and better care for women, babies, and their families,” RCM CEO Gill Walton said.

RCOG President, Dr Edward Morris, added: “We are delighted to see such a significant amount of funding has been dedicated to maternity services. This demonstrates a real commitment to prioritising the safety and care of pregnant women and their babies, and improving outcomes for all.

“We are grateful to NHS England for accepting our recommendations for an increase in support in the number of staffing and resources required, particularly their acknowledgement of the vital role obstetricians play in providing safe maternity services.”

Both Royal Colleges thanked in particular NHS England’s Chief Nursing Officer Ruth May for working closely with them and calling for additional funding.

£46.7 million of the funding will go towards creating around 1,000 midwifery posts, £5 million to support recruitment from overseas, £26.5 million towards multidisciplinary training for existing and £10.6 million will go towards increasing the obstetric workforce are some examples of how the funding will be used.

The announcement increased maternity funding comes shortly after the release of the Ockenden report that highlights seven immediate and essential actions:

  1. Enhanced safety – increasing partnerships between Trusts and local networks
  2. Listening to women and their families – ensuring women’s and their families’ voices are heard
  3. Staff training and working together – staff who work together should train together
  4. Managing complex pregnancy – robust pathways for managing complex pregnancies ensuring an agreed criteria for cases to be discussed/referred to a maternal medicine specialist centre
  5. Risk assessment through pregnancy – a risk assessment conducted throughout pregnancy at each contact with services
  6. Monitoring fetal wellbeing – Maternity services must appoint a dedicated Lead Midwife and Lead Obstetrician both with expertise to practice best fetal monitoring
  7. Informed consent – Trusts must ensure women have easy access to accurate information to enable informed choice.