Saturday, 11 April 2015

Labour’s better plan for maternity care

Labour's better plan for maternity care
​Labour will guarantee one-to-one maternity care for every woman during labour and birth. Labour is publishing its Health Manifesto which will put personalised care at its heart.

  • The manifesto will include a new 'Call the Midwife' pledge which will see:​​Guaranteed personalised one-to-one care from a midwife for every woman during labour and childbirth.
  • This guarantee will be enshrined in the NHS constitution.
  • A plan to make this guarantee a reality by providing 3,000 new midwives, through our fully-funded £2.5bn Time to Care Fund.
A world-class NHS, fit for the 21st century, needs enough doctors and nurses with the time to care for patients. But over the last five years staff numbers haven't kept pace with demand.

This means midwives are not always able to offer woman one-to-one care during labour, as recommended by NICE. A failure to deliver one-to-one care means problems are more likely to occur. The Royal College of Midwives calculates that the NHS in England would need 3,000 more midwives to be able to offer all women one-to-one care.

Labour has a better plan for maternity care. Today we are announcing that, for the first time, all women in labour will be guaranteed personalised one-to-one care from a midwife. It will mean:

·         A midwife solely dedicated and able to give her full commitment to the woman all the time she is in labour.
·         A guarantee of one-to-one care which is widely accepted to improve the quality and safety of care for women and babies, and is more likely to lead to a positive experience of childbirth


One-to-one care means that a woman in established labour receives care from a designated midwife for the whole of that labour. This means that a midwife will be able to care for the woman 100 per cent of the time. The one-to-one care will cover the labour, the birth and the period immediately after giving birth.

The guarantee will be enshrined as a new right in the NHS constitution, made possible by our commitment to recruit 3,000 more midwives by 2020 – through our £2.5bn Time to Care Fund, funded through a mansion tax on properties over £2m, tackling tax avoidance and a new levy on tobacco firms - but our aim will be to achieve it as soon as possible within the next Parliament.

This is part of Labour's broader plan to make sure the NHS is sustainable and fit for the future. Rather than simply responding to problems, we need to focus on promoting good health and preventing ill health – starting at the very beginning of life.

Conservative didn't put the NHS in their 6 prioritised and are now making unfunded commitments.

This is a desperate announcement from a Tory campaign that is in chaos. It is completely unfunded and you can't believe a word of it.

David Cameron's promises can't be trusted because there's no answer as to how this will be paid for. The truth is the Tories' extreme plans to cuts twice as fast in the next year as last year. Their plans would threaten the NHS as we know it.

The Tories have taken the NHS backwards. After five years of this Government there's a crisis in A&E, waiting lists are at a record high and it's harder to see your GP. The NHS can't survive five more years of David Cameron.

Labour has a better plan for the NHS. Only Labour has a plan to put real money into the NHS from the start of the parliament to meet our commitments to it. We have a fully-funded plan to invest £2.5bn in 20,000 more nurses and 8,000 more doctors so the NHS has time to care. This will also include 3,000 more midwives to meet our guarantee being announced today for one-to-one maternity care.

Q&A
What does one-to-one care mean?One-to-one care means that the care provided for the woman throughout labour is provided exclusively by a midwife solely dedicated to her care.

What happens if the midwife's shift ends before labour is over?On these occasions care will be handed over to another designated midwife, who will continue the one-to-one care of that woman. The key point is that at any one time the woman will be assigned a midwife who is solely dedicated and able to give her full commitment to her care.

What happens if the woman needs more than one midwife?The calculation of 3,000 more midwives takes into account situations where more than one midwife might be required, such as complications during labour.

How is this different from a 'named midwife'?A named midwife isn't the same as one-to-one care. For example in some cases all it means is that there is an individual overseeing rather than delivering the care directly. It tends to refer to pregnancy rather than labour.  One-to-one care ensures there will a dedicated midwife able to give 100 per cent of her attention to the woman in labour.

How will you guarantee it?We will give women a new right in the NHS constitution to one-to-one care, backed up by commitment to increase midwife numbers by 3,000. The Royal College of Midwives calculates that 3,000 more midwives will be enough to ensure every maternity ward in England can offer one-to-one care during labour.

When will you guarantee it by?These staff will be in place by 2020 at the latest, but we hope to deliver it sooner in the Parliament than that. We expect to make significant progress towards eliminating the shortage of midwives in the coming years.

Will you guarantee 1:1 care seven days a week?Yes this guarantee will apply regardless of the time of day or day of the week.

Where did the figure of 3,000 come from?This is based on calculations from the Royal College of Midwives on the number of midwives required to guarantee women one-to-one care during labour, given the birth rate.

How much will these midwives cost and how will you pay for them?These midwives are fully covered by our £2.5 billion Time to Care Fund, paid for by a mansion tax on properties over £2m, tackling tax avoidance and a levy on tobacco companies.

Where will you recruit the midwives from?We are working with the Royal College of Midwives on plans to deliver these numbers – but given there are four applicants for every available place on a midwifery training course – a key part of the plan will include increasing the number of available training places so we can bring through the next generation of British midwives. Our plan will also involve schemes to encourage better retention and to attract those midwives who have recently left the NHS to return to practice.

Won't this mean midwives are pulled from the community to work in hospitals? What about home-births?
No. The RCM's calculations take into account the fact that many women choose to give birth in birthing centres or at home.

Aren't the Government already doing this – they said in the NHS Mandate they wanted this?
No. Under the Tory-led Government there is a shortage of midwives. Successive governments have talked about this for too long and it still isn't happening. Only Labour has a funded plan to deliver the extra midwives needed to eliminate the shortage and guarantee women one-to-one care during labour.

Tories says plans in place to train more midwives?Only Labour is prepared to fund the additional posts which are required to eliminate the shortage of midwives.

Tories say more midwives than ever before?The key point is that midwife numbers haven't kept pace with the rising birth rate.

Tories say the vast majority of women rate their maternity care as excellent or very good?
The same survey shows one in four women say they were left alone during labour at a time that worried them. That's not good enough. That's why Labour has a better plan to guarantee all women one-to-one care during labour.

Shortage of midwives isn't a new problem?No, but the previous Labour government increased the number of midwives by over 4,000. Under this Government we are seeing shortages because numbers haven't kept pace with demand.

Didn't Labour promise this before?The previous Labour government said women should have a named midwife to provide continuity of care during pregnancy, which is also important. Today's announcement is about guaranteeing women one-to-one care during labour. It's true that one-to-one care during labour has been considered as the gold-standard for some time, but in recent years there just haven't been enough midwives to deliver this. Only Labour has a funded plan to eliminate the historic shortage of midwives.
www.labour.org.uk to join or renew call 0845 0922299.