NHS to be ‘world leader’ for births

The Sunday Telegraph - - Front Page - By Christo­pher Hope CHIEF PO­LIT­I­CAL COR­RE­SPON­DENT

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.”

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