The Five Year Forward View, drawn up by NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens, aims to give midwives more options to take charge of the maternity services they offer.
It also seeks to give women more control over where they give birth, citing research that shows that for low risk pregnancies babies born at midwife-led units or at home did as well as babies born in obstetric units, with fewer interventions.
Furthermore, research by the Women’s Institute and the National Childbirth Trust suggests that while only a quarter of women want to give birth in a hospital obstetrics unit, over 85% actually do so.
The report makes the following recommendations:
Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the RCM, said: “There’s no doubt that maternity services need to be delivered differently so that they are set up to meet the needs of women. This is recognised in the Five Year View with the proposal for a review of future ways to organise and deliver maternity services.
“The review of the tariff for maternity services is a positive step. Our research shows that in the postnatal area in particular the tariff is often not enough to pay for the actual costs of the services. We want to see these services funded appropriately so that women and babies receive care based on their needs.
“I look forward to working with NHS England on the review of maternity services and together delivering better care and more choice for women.”