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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

More choice in NHS maternity services promised by 2009

Hewitt promises more choice for expectant mothers by end of 2009 - Guardian


"By the end of 2009, every pregnant woman in England will be guaranteed the full range of choices about how and where to give birth, Patricia Hewitt, the health secretary, promised yesterday.

She committed the government to a drastic improvement in NHS maternity services, but could not say how many extra midwives would be needed or how much the fuller service would cost.

She told health authorities and trusts to work out the details and make decisions about how many hospitals would have to close maternity departments as consultant-led services are consolidated into fewer hi-tech specialist centres."

"Ms Hewitt claimed every NHS facility was safe. But she said inequalities across England were "shocking". Women living in families where both partners were unemployed were 20 times more likely to die in labour. Single mothers were three times more likely to die and women living in deprived areas 45% more likely."

"Dame Karlene Davis, general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, warned that the NHS would have to recruit 1,000 extra fulltime midwives by 2009 and 3,000 by 2012 to implement the strategy. Andrew Lansley, the Conservative shadow health secretary, said Ms Hewitt had failed to reconcile her promises with closures or cutbacks at 43 maternity services and an increasing shortage of midwives."