Ministers will press NHS England to ensure women go to hospital within 42 days of knowing they are pregnant
A “call to action” will be issued to the NHS to improve support for vulnerable pregnant women after its decision to cut the number of early pregnancy and birth alerts sent out.
In a manifesto delivered to the government, Maternity Action has made it clear that ministers will urge the NHS to do more to ensure women go to hospital within 42 days of knowing they are pregnant.
Ministers will also urge NHS England, which maintains the annual reporting of early alerts, to ensure pregnant women can have access to basic safeguarding advice.
The issue of early alerts has been brought to the attention of ministers after a record number of women were incorrectly told they were pregnant at 12 weeks in 2016-17.
The proportion of women who had received a counselling service within 24 hours, or who had been offered free NHS-funded access to mums-to-be support, had fallen from 52% to 44%.
Maternity Action, which has campaigned for the NHS to do more for the vulnerable and under-resourced, said ministers would call on NHS England to review the progress of a number of campaigns launched this year, aimed at reducing the number of early alerts.
An important review into why midwives are leaving the profession due to job insecurity will be conducted to uncover a lack of trust in the system, while another programme to simplify the current set of documents covering midwifery practice, provision and progression, has to be redesigned.
The number of early alerts has dropped year on year since 2010, but the government has been criticised in recent years for the lack of action it has taken.
The fact that Maternity Action has produced its manifesto just months after delivery of the controversial Every Baby Every Child review of women’s and children’s services has raised suspicion that the government was already aware of some of the issues detailed in the campaign before it was launched.
One of the group’s primary concerns is that midwives are leaving the profession in droves because they are no longer certain they will be given stability or raise their salaries.
Stuart Webber, chief executive and chief nursing officer at Maternity Action, said: “A clear appraisal of the successes and challenges that are facing women and families within NHS maternity services is essential to making sure we are delivering the high quality care our constituents demand.
“The current state of the NHS labour service is stark. We need to ensure that mums-to-be and families receive high quality, safe and individualised care. It is vital to get better on care of highly vulnerable groups, and to provide families with an ongoing reassurance about the standard of maternity services in their area.”