'Bold changes' to Scottish maternity services have been outlined in a new report released by the Scottish government.
The Best Start: A Five-Year Forward Plan for Maternity and Neonatal Care in Scotland, sets out a series of 76 recommendations aimed to improve the continuity of care received by mothers and babies.
One of the key recommendations was to introduce a ‘primary midwife’ who will be the main carer for mothers across their pregnancy and in the postnatal period. According to the report, this will allow patients to build relationships with staff and improve breastfeeding support, provide opportunities for more partner support for bonding with their babies, and minimising the separation of mother and child.
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has fully supported these changes with Mary Ross-Davie, director of RCM Scotland, saying that this 'plan has the potential to revolutionise maternity care, to deliver safer and better services for women, babies and their families, and to improve the health of our population.’
‘This is a defining moment for maternity services in Scotland and will be a seismic shift for our maternity services,' she added.
The government also suggested that each NHS board will be required to ensure they are able to provide the full range of choice of place of birth, as well as access to a specialist team for women with complex vulnerabilities.
Over time maternity care will transition into taking place in local community ‘hubs’ each designed on the basis of local need. The community hubs will be the main point of contact for women during their pregnancies and will provide breastfeeding and support services for parents. A review of these hubs should be conducted, following an agreed national framework, after they have been operating for a defined period.
The report follows the Review of Maternity and Neonatal Services in Scotland which aimed to ensure that every mother and baby received the best possible care from Scotland’s health service.
‘This move will help build relationship-based care between women and midwives, and will improve outcomes for women,’ said Shona Robison, the Scottish health secretary, during the launch of the report. ‘Changes to birth rate, demographics and best practice, as well as advances to clinical care, means the services we provide to women and babies must be adapted and updated.’