UK Government launches continuity of care tool kit for midwives and health visitors

on 25 May 2021

The UK Government has launched a toolkit outlining local practice implementation and improvements to continuity of care for midwives and health visiting services.

The document has been developed as part of delivering the Healthy Child Programme, as well as working towards the ambitions set out in the National Maternity Review and the NHS Long Term Plan.

It was developed based on a literature search of current research, an examination of current UK guidance, and interviews with midwives and health visitors working in Local Maternity Systems.

The UK Government also highlights the benefits of continuity of care services including earlier identification of women in need of targeted support, better ability to share relevant information between midwives and health visitors in a timely manner and aligning service commissioning and pathways.

Overall it aims to ensure that women and their partners are given the same consistent and evidence-based information throughout their maternity journey, support them to understand when and how their health information will be shared, and enable them to be tailored to their needs.

Recommendations for implementing effective continuity of care:

  • Create opportunities for midwives and health visitors to meet and discuss women’s needs
  • Share relevant information about women and their babies throughout pregnancy and postpartum
  • Share lists of names and contact details of professionals in each service
  • Provide protected time for frontline staff to develop interprofessional communication and new systems for working
  • Form interprofessional teams including health visitors, midwives, GPs, and other allied health professionals
  • Consider secondments to develop interprofessional teams
  • Develop templates of communication of women’s changing needs across the care pathway
  • Provide joint visits and appointments for women, particularly those who are vulnerable, if acceptable to the woman
  • Provide joint training for midwives and health visitors on breastfeeding, safeguarding, perinatal mental health and other issues
  • Support collaborative working in maternity outreach hubs and community hubs.

The ‘Care continuity between midwifery and health visiting services: principles for practice’ can be found here.