January 2019

Current issue

The first issue of BJM for 2019 comes as the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, announces greater funding for maternity services, with proposals to improve care during and after pregnancy and birth. Our editorial dissects the plans and what they will mean for midwifery. In addition, we examine women’s experiences of maternity bladder management, and the legal and ethical considerations of midwives performing the NIPE. We also hear how the Scottish Government is doing more to help support expectant parents who have learning disabilities, and how a pre-qualifying skills passport is helping newly-qualified midwives in Wales.

What the editor says

Maternity services appear to have been given a much needed boost for 2019, with the announcement of plans to fund a wide range of improvements for maternity services. The proposals include the recruitment of more specialist neonatal nurses to care for critically ill infants, funding for breastfeeding programmes and postnatal physiotherapy, and the digitisation of the child health record (the ‘red book’). There are also renewed commitments to recruit more midwives and halve rates of stillbirth, brain injury at birth and maternal and neonatal deaths by 2025. Nevertheless, there are numerous uncertainties, not least of which is the effect of Brexit on staffing, resources, and the funding (due in the 2023/24 financial year) that maternity services eventually receive. Whether the Government will meet its target to halve stillbirths, and whether a new app-based red book will be successfully implemented in the NHS, remain to be seen. As a response to the scale and ambition of this project, the Royal College of Midwives has called for funding to reach a range of services, such as obesity and smoking interventions, which may have a less obvious connection to pregnancy health. If this can be achieved, it could signal a significant shift in the efficacy of the NHS as a whole.

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