£3k per­sonal bud­gets may be awarded to mums-to-be

Health watch­dog backs pro­posal for per­son­alised care plans

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

HILLING­DON’S health watch­dog has backed a re­port which sug­gests preg­nant women should make de­ci­sions about how and where they re­ceive care shared, de­spite con­cerns for vul­ner­a­ble moth­ers-tobe.

In­de­pen­dently chaired by Baroness Ju­lia Cum­ber­lege, the Na­tional Ma­ter­nity Re­view sug­gests mums-to-be should be given a per­sonal bud­get of £3,000 each.

The re­view was com­mis­sioned by NHS Eng­land, fol­low­ing the More­cambe Bay In­ves­ti­ga­tion into the se­ri­ous fail­ures of clin­i­cal care in the ma­ter­nity unit at Fur­ness Hos­pi­tal.

“Ev­ery woman should de­velop a per­son­alised care plan with her mid­wife and other health pro­fes­sion­als, which sets out her de­ci­sions about her care, re­flects her wider health needs and is kept up to date as her preg­nancy pro­gresses,” the re­port states.

Gra­ham Hawkes, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Healthwatch Hilling­don wel­comes the re­view and is ‘de­lighted’ at rec­om­men­da­tions to shape a fu­ture ma­ter­nity ser­vice that ‘puts women in con­trol and at the cen­tre of their care, through­out their preg­nancy and the post-na­tal pe­riod’.

He said: “It is also pleas­ing to see the fo­cus placed on rais­ing the aware­ness of ma­ter­nal

Gen­eral men­tal health, some­thing that we have been ad­vo­cat­ing for across north-west Lon­don for some time.”

One of the sig­nif­i­cant pro­pos­als of the re­view is to give women ac­cess to an NHS Per­sonal Ma­ter­nity Care Bud­get.

Healthwatch Hilling­don say they em­brace women hav­ing a choice, but ‘would cau­tion how the more vul­ner­a­ble and dis­ad­van­taged sec­tors of the com­mu­nity are sup­ported to make the most ef­fec­tive use of their bud­get’.

The health watch­dog is con­cerned that with­out ad­e­quate ad­vice to make in­formed choices, there could be a widen­ing of health in­equal­i­ties and in­equal­ity in ac­cess to ma­ter­nity care ser­vices.

A Healthwatch Hilling­don spokesper­son said: “With Eal­ing ma­ter­nity unit clos­ing un­der Shap­ing a Health­ier Fu­ture (SaHF), the qual­ity and safety of ma­ter­nity care con­tin­ues to be in the spot­light lo­cally.

“We see the call in the re­view for women to have greater con­ti­nu­ity from mid­wives as im­por­tant, but this should also be aligned with the 168 hours of com­pre­hen­sive con­sul­tant cover on ma­ter­nity wards, that we have been guar­an­teed by the SaHF Clin­i­cal Board.”

The re­view also places a strong em­pha­sis to­wards home births, al­though only one in 10 women cur­rently say they would choose a home birth.

In Hilling­don, one in 100 births took place out­side of a birthing unit last year.

The re­view urges women to play their part in cre­at­ing the ma­ter­nity ser­vices they want, by voic­ing their opin­ions and chal­leng­ing those pro­vid­ing the ser­vices.

The Healthwatch Hilling­don spokesper­son con­tin­ued: “We would pas­sion­ately echo that sen­ti­ment. Work by Healthwatch show that over half of women who have used a ma­ter­nity ser­vice want to give feed­back to help im­prove ser­vices, yet two thirds don’t know how.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate that the re­view looks to ad­dress this and en­cour­age an em­pha­sis on new meth­ods, which avoid the over-re­liance on sur­veys.”

Healthwatch Hilling­don is cur­rently un­der­tak­ing a fo­cus pro­ject to lis­ten to women’s ex­pe­ri­ence of ma­ter­nity care at Hilling­don Hos­pi­tal.

Women can tell re­port about their re­cent ex­pe­ri­ences of ma­ter­nity ser­vices by call­ing the team on 01895 272 997, or email­ing of­fice@health watch­hilling­don.org.uk.

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