Transforming UK Midwifery: Developing Maternity Services to Promote Quality, Choice and Stability


Over the last decade, maternity services in the UK have faced unprecedented challenges. Indeed, NHS forecasts that the number of women giving birth is expected to rise by 3% by 2020. Moreover, people are giving birth later, with the average age of first time mothers increasing from 27.2 in 1982 to 30.2 in 2014 (NHS England, 2016). In addition, 7,700 newly-qualified midwives have joined the profession in the past five years, however 8,900 have left either due to retirement or quitting the NHS. The Royal College of Midwives estimates that to keep up with current demand, there would need to be a national addition of 3,500 midwives (RCM, 2018).

In recognition of this, the NHS commissioned the National Maternity Review to publish Better Births (2016). The report revealed that whilst the birth rate and complexity of cases has increased, the quality and outcomes of maternity services has improved significantly over the past decade. In addition to this, the Department for Health and Social Care has announced plans to implement the continuity of carer model by March 2019. This will ensure that the same midwife will be present throughout pregnancy, labour, and post-natal care. Included in this are plans to train 3,000 more midwives over four years and introduce a 12.6% pay rise for midwives by 2020-21 (Department Health and Social Care, 2018).

Despite this, the Royal College of Midwifery (RMC) has warned of chronic staff and resource shortages within the industry as a result of a significant reduction applicants to the profession. Indeed, according to UCAS, there are now 35% fewer applications than there were in 2014 (UCAS, 2018). The RMC attributes this to the ‘burn-out’ factor in midwifery due to the strain on resources, which causes stress and accidental negligence. For instance, Better Births (2016) reported that the NHS spends £560 million each year on compensating families for negligence during maternity care, which can reportedly be prevented by implementing continuity of care.

At a critical time for the development of maternity services in the UK, this timely symposium provides an invaluable opportunity for all practitioners working in midwifery and maternity services across the public, private and third sector to review the goals and progress of the Maternity Transformation Programme. It will also explore how to implement effective change to further improve midwifery services across the UK.

Delegates will:

  • Evaluate the recommendations of the National Maternity Review and its impact on relevant stakeholders
  • Examine the impact of the continuity of carer model and its affect on national priorities
  • Discuss how to best provide mothers with the freedom of choice while retaining high standards of safety
  • Assess the availability of postnatal and perinatal mental health services and discuss improving accessibility to them
  • Analyse ways to drive midwifery recruitment and ensure staff retention
  • Consider ways to combat accidental negligence and measures to mitigate this
  • Explore ways of improving data sharing to create more efficient and effective midwifery services
  • Assess ways to adequately prepare midwives to handle growing demand for personalised services


09:30  Registration and Morning Refreshments
10:15  Chair’s Welcome and Introduction
10:30  Panel Session One:
 Assessing the National Maternity Review: Identifying Priorities and Areas for Reform

  • Reviewing Better Births: Discussing the findings of the National Maternity Review two years on
  • Shifting towards Continuity of Carer: Highlighting the importance of continuous care and ensuring its effective implementation
  • Balancing Personalised Care Plans: Assessing the balance between ensuring high standards of safety whilst providing personalised care
  • Ensuring Mental Health Care: Discussing postnatal and perinatal mental health services and improving patient access to them
11:30  Morning Coffee Break
11:45  Open Floor Discussion and Debate with Panel One
12:30  Networking Lunch
13:30  Panel Session Two:
 Translating Policy into Practice: Implementing Effective Change and Ensuring Future Stability

  • Reinforcing the Future of Midwifery: Driving midwifery recruitment as a national priority
  • Transforming the Workforce: Equipping midwives with appropriate expertise and resources to handle growing demands
  • Improving data-sharing: Examine ways to effectively share information and utilise technology to facilitate change
  • Multi-professional working: Discussing the hierarchy within medicine and its effect on negligence and preventable harm
14:30  Afternoon Coffee Break
14:45  Open Floor Discussion and Debate with Panel Two
15:30  Chair’s Summary and Closing Comments
15:40  Networking Reception
16:30  Close

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