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Labour’s better plan for maternity care

April 13, 2015

Today Labour is publishing its Health Manifesto which will put personalised care at its heart. This will include a new ‘Call the Midwife’ pledge that, for the first time, all women in labour will be guaranteed personalised one-to-one care from a midwife. It will mean:

• A midwife solely dedicated and able to give her full commitment to the woman all the time she is in labour.
• A guarantee of one-to-one care, which is widely accepted to improve the quality and safety of care for women and babies, and is more likely to lead to a positive experience of childbirth.

The guarantee will be enshrined as a new right in the NHS constitution, made possible by our commitment to recruit 3,000 more midwives through our £2.5bn Time to Care Fund, funded through a mansion tax on properties over £2 million, tackling tax avoidance and a new levy on tobacco firms.

Labour’s better plan for maternity care also involves giving women more choice over where to give birth and ensuring training for midwives includes perinatal mental health. This is part of Labour’s broader plan to make sure the NHS is sustainable and fit for the future. Rather than simply responding to problems, we need to focus on promoting good health and preventing ill health – starting at the very beginning of life.

A world-class NHS, fit for the 21st century, needs enough doctors and nurses with the time to care for patients. But over the last five years staff numbers haven’t kept pace with demand.

This means midwives are not always able to offer woman one-to-one care during labour, as recommended by NICE. A failure to deliver one-to-one care means problems are more likely to occur. The Royal College of Midwives calculates that the NHS in England would need 3,000 more midwives to be able to offer all women one-to-one care.

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