Some really fantastic news to share with you today, as my colleague, Nadine Dorries MP confirmed the Government will, through NHS England, is investing an extra £95 million in maternity services to improve safety even further.
Since the Conservatives won the election in 2010, the stillbirth rate in England has decreased by 25% - which is an incredible achievement and smashes our initial target to cut rates by 20% by 2020. However, we shouldn’t let that achievement get lost amongst everything else.
This additional £95 million in maternity services follows the commitment made by the Government in December, following the Okenden report recommendations. £83.8m will go directly to the system, allocated for the greatest impact on safety:
1. Midwifery Workforce (£46.7m):
- All maternity services across England were asked to complete a survey of their position against the recommendations of Birthrate Plus, a midwifery workforce assessment tool.
- This highlighted significant gaps between workforce in post and recommended establishments, and therefore we propose to fund the establishment of a 1000 more midwifery posts.
2. Obstetric Workforce (£10.6m):
- There are some actions within the Okenden report which have a direct impact on obstetric capacity, fetal wellbeing lead and consultant ward rounds.
- The Government are therefore funding an increase in consultant time, equal to 80 wte in 21/22.
3. MDT Training (£26.5m)
- Capacity to release clinicians for training is challenging, and we are investing in workforce capacity to allow teams to train together, which will improve the way the multidisciplinary teams work together.
- The remainder of the funding will be used to ensure there is adequate capacity in the system to support consistent, sustainable improvement in maternity services
4. National & Regional Support (£4.1m)
- This will include Maternity Improvement Advisors to work alongside trusts on the Maternity Safety Support Programme. Implementing the Ockenden IEAs will be quality assured and the MIAs will lead the QA visits to services.
5. Independent Senior Advocate (£3.0m)
- This will ensure consistency across England and this role is being developed, and will be funded, nationally.
6. International recruitment of midwives (£5m)
- This will support the costs of the recruitment of additional midwives from overseas, in line with the NHS international nurse recruitment programme
I hope this comes as welcome news to all constituents, and builds on several steps we are taking as a Government to support our women across society – even yesterday, it was great to join a Zoom call with some fantastic young women, who shared their experiences and thoughts on the discrimination and challenges they face with myself and my colleague, Matt Hancock MP, as part of our Government's wider #WomensHealthStrategy.
I have also shared my thoughts on a few of these recently, which I will include in the link below: