Call for midwives to be based in children's centres

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The charity 4Children is calling for midwives and health visitors be based at children’s centres, after a poll revealed that a quarter of mothers-to-be found out information about pregnancy from a children’s centre.

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Better-off mothers are more likely than poorer mothers to be still seeing a health visitor four months after the birth

The survey of 1,346 mothers, carried out by Bounty Parenting Club and commissioned by 4Children, also found that two-thirds of mothers see a health visitor for less than two months after the birth.

Mothers from low-income families are less likely than those from well-off backgrounds to see a health visitor in the months after their baby is born.

Nine in ten women saw a midwife during their pregnancy, but four in ten said that seeing the same midwife could have improved their experience of pregnancy.

They also said that more frequent and less rushed appointments would have made a difference.

Of mothers that were seeing a health visitor four months after the birth, 22 per cent of better-off mothers were still seeing a health visitor, compared to 18 per cent of mothers from poorer backgrounds.

According to the survey, 25 per cent of mothers found out information about pregnancy from their local children’s centre. 4Children say that basing midwives and health visitors in children's centres woul dprovide more joined-up support and referrals for pregnant women that need extra support.

4Children chief executive Anne Longfield said, ‘Bringing a baby home from hospital is one of the most exciting moments of a mother’s life which is filled with hope for the future. However the first months of a baby’s life can be a very uncertain time for mothers and the support of a health visitor can make a real difference to whether a baby is flourishing or not. Children’s centres can provide a base for midwives and health visitors to provide joined up support and referrals for those who need extra help.

Lisa Penney from Bounty said, ‘The number of discussions asking for advice about postnatal support on our web forums indicates a worrying level of uncertainty among some parents. It would be helpful if all mothers were offered access to clear, consistent advice from the medical profession before and after the birth.’

Responsibility for commissioning children's health services, including health visitors, moves from NHS England to local authorities on 1 October 2015. The Department of Health with its partner agencies has published the Early Years High Impact Area documents to support local authorities to commission health visiting services and integrated children's early years services.

 

Midwives consider strike action over pay

Meanwhile, more than nine in ten midwives and maternity support workers in England say they would consider taking industrial action over NHS pay.

For the first time in its history, the Royal college of Midwives consulted its members about whether they would consider strike action.

Ninety-four per cent of those that took part said they would consider striking over pay.

The RCM will be taking the results of this consultation to an extraordinary meeting of its board in the next few weeks and will then decide whether to move to a formal ballot of its members on industrial action.

The NHS pay review body had recommended a 1 per cent pay increase for all staff, but the Government has said that those receiving  “progression-in-job” rises will not receive this.

The RCM is urging ministers to enter into talks with them and re-consider its decision.