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Draft guidance for midwifery safe staffing levels

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NICE has issued a draft guideline for safe staffing levels for midwifery.

The draft recommendations set out the responsibilities of managers and in midwife staff planning, and the warning signs that require immediate action.

Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE, said: 'The care that a woman receives throughout her pregnancy and after she has given birth has a huge impact on her physical and emotional wellbeing, as well as the health of her baby. The Department of Health and NHS England have asked NICE to produce evidence-based guidelines advising the NHS on how to ensure levels of midwife staffing is safe in all maternity settings be it at home, in the community or in hospital.'

The guidelines state that every woman should have at least one registered midwife present during labour.

Sean O'Sullivan, head of health and social policy from the RCM, said: 'We hope that that these guidelines lead to better deployment of midwives in the community and hospitals. Trusts will often pull midwives from the community in order to cover staff shortages in hospital wards, which then has a detrimental impact onto the postnatal and antenatal care that women receive.

'There needs to be strong guidance to ensure that labour wards are well staffed and not just to rely on midwives from the community. They need to look at a range of alternative methods.'

The draft version of this guideline has been published for consultation. Organisations can register as a stakeholder on the NICE website and have until 13 November to submit their comments. Individuals are advised to pass comments through a registered stakeholder that closely represents them

This is the second set of safe staffing guidelines that NICE has drafted for the DH. The first regarded safe staffing levels for nurses in hospital wards. Similar guidelines will also be introduced for other services such as community and mental health.

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