NHS to be ‘world leader’ for births
NEW mothers will get help to breastfeed their babies for longer and more neonatal nurses and specialists will “make the NHS the best place in the world to give birth”, Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, pledges today.
The traditional “red book” containing every baby’s medical details, which parents are obliged to bring to check-ups, will also be digitised as part of a comprehensive new maternity plan.
The modernisation plans are being funded by Theresa May’s announcement last summer to increase NHS funding by £20.5billion a year by 2023-24.
At the heart of these plans is a major redesign of neonatal services, led by an expansion in staff numbers and a range of targeted actions.
Digital maternity records for 100,000 women will be piloted by the end of next year and rolled out to all by 2023-24.
Each maternity unit will be asked to deliver an accredited infant feeding programme – such as the Unicef Baby Friendly initiative, which recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months and thereafter with other foods for two years – from next April.
Critically ill newborn babies will also get improved accommodation and support from dedicated care coordinators from 2021-22, with plans to make more intensive care cots available.
The NHS will make physiotherapy more widely available for the one in three women who experience incontinence after childbirth, with 285,000 women offered postnatal physiotherapy by 2023-24.
New initiatives to improve safety, quality and continuity of care, and aim to halve stillbirths, maternal and infant deaths and serious brain injuries in newborn babies will be in place by 2025.
Mr Hancock said: “I want our NHS to be the best place in world to give birth.
“Today, we will take steps to ensure every expectant mother is supported – from pregnancy, to birth, to those critical first months of parenthood – with a comprehensive package of personalised, high-quality support.”