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Lancashire and South Cumbria maternity system beats national target to provide women with the same carer throughout pregnancy

Partnership work across maternity services in Lancashire and South Cumbria has resulted in 29.2% of women now being booked onto pathways which can offer continuity of carer, exceeding the national target set out in the Better Births maternity transformation plan which sets a target for 20% of women to receive continuity of carer throughout pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period by March 2019.

The four main NHS providers of maternity services across Lancashire and South Cumbria have worked together to form a local maternity system known as Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria Better Births. Through partnership working Better Births aim to remove boundaries; improve choice, safety and experience of maternity services and deliver consistent care to women and their families.

Delivery of continuity of carer is associated with a significant increase in positive outcomes for mum and baby. These include; a decreased need for caesarean sections, a reduced chance of pre-term births and a reduced chance of still birth. The use of this model of care has also shown a greater uptake of public health advice such as stopping smoking and referrals to domestic violence services, improving the health and wellbeing of women and families.

In order to provide continuity of carers, midwifery teams across Lancashire and South Cumbria have adapted working styles and adopted new shift patterns. King’s College London provided midwives and other maternity professionals with training during February and March of this year to demonstrate how this new structure and way of working can be achieved and the overwhelmingly positive impact this has on families and health outcomes.

As part of this work Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have introduced the pilot Eden Caseloading Team which will see midwives trained in all aspects of maternity practice allowing them to support women and families at all stages of their pregnancy.

Kim Parekh, Team Leader for Caseloading Midwives at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, said: “We are one of the few maternity services nationally to have started a specific caseloading team.

The caseloading team consists of seven midwives who will be the named midwives for around 280 women per year in a specific geographical area. The midwives work flexibly and provide 24/7 on-call services as a team. They see the women from the beginning of the pregnancy, during labour and then postnatally.”

Vanessa Wilson, Programme Director for Women’s and Children’s services in Lancashire and South Cumbria, said: “The work taking place in Lancashire and South Cumbria puts us at the forefront of this new way of working and in good stead to meet the future national targets of, 35% of women to receive continuity of carer by March 2020 and 51% by March 2021.”

The Better Births national review aims to improve the outcomes of maternity services in England over a five year period. Continuity of carer is highlighted as a key aspect of the transformation plan to ensure care provided is safe, effective and reduces complications.

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