Maternity services in the West Midlands

Elaine Kidney, Christine MacArthur, Heather Winter, Gavin Rudge

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Maternity services are a key public health measure to improve health and reduce inequalities, seen by Government as in need of modernisation. Various current documents and policies relate to maternity services, particularly the Maternity Standard of the National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services (1) and NICE guidelines. The overall vision of the NSF is:

    Flexible, individualised services designed to fit around the needs of the mother and her baby’s journey through pregnancy and motherhood, with emphasis on the needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged women
    Women being supported and encouraged to have as normal a pregnancy and birth as possible, with medical intervention only if it is of benefit.

    Midwifery and obstetric care based on providing good clinical and psychological outcomes for the woman and her baby, while putting equal emphasis on preparing new parents for parenthood
    A project on research dissemination in maternity services in the region (2) identified a number of current concerns within PCTs and found that maternity services did not yet meet many aspects of the NSF. PCTs’ main concerns were:

    Management/organisation of services:

    Provision of optimum levels of care – what are the most effective models of maternity care, taking account of shortages of midwives, and effective deployment of maternity assistants
    Improvements in basic care, particularly in areas with high maternity caseloads
    Improving access to midwifery care, especially via community services.
    Changing practice to work with multidisciplinary teams, for instance in Sure Start Children’s Centres
    Relationships/contracts/networks between purchasers and providers.

    Improving services for particular vulnerable groups eg ethnic groups, particularly those who either do not speak English, have different cultural expectations of care or who access the service late, those subject to domestic abuse and women with disabilities

    Meeting targets for increasing breastfeeding and decreasing smoking levels, and how to achieve these

    Specific concerns such as high levels of perinatal and infant mortality in some areas and high levels of caesarean section in others
    This chapter provides a snapshot of current maternity services in the West Midlands, where data is available, relating to booking for antenatal care; disadvantaged groups; smoking in pregnancy; breastfeeding initiation and caesarean section rates. There are no data to present on most aspects relevant to PCTs’ concerns about organisation of services. Links between maternity services and infant outcome are covered extensively by the West Midlands Perinatal Institute (WMPI) and are not included in this chapter.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalWest Midlands Key Health Data 2006/07
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007

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    Chapter 12


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