News archive 2001
Inner city midwifery care: new study results03 Oct 2001, PR 26/01
A study of the UK's only self-employed midwifery practice funded by the NHS has been published by King's College London, revealing that midwifery care targeted to women from ethnic minorities and deprived areas can dramatically improve their experience of pregnancy and birth.
Set up in 1997 within the NHS, the Albany Midwifery Practice in Peckham is unique in the UK. The midwives have a sub-contract with the Maternity Department at King's College Hospital NHS Trust to provide midwifery care for 216 women each year, and are self-employed and self-managed. The practice is based at Peckham Pulse Community Centre and serves a diverse ethnic community, 57% of women using the practice are non-Caucasian.
The practice provides direct access to a midwife, and continuity of carer to women throughout pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period. Each woman is allocated a primary and a second midwife who provide cover 24 hours a day, and midwives are available at all times via pager. The practice runs antenatal and postnatal groups, and continues to care for women if they develop complications in partnership with obstetricians at King's College Hospital.
Results from the King's College London study show that this style of practice works particularly well in an area such as Peckham, and could serve as a model for similar inner city areas where the health needs of women are often poorly met.
Dr Jane Sandall, Professor of Midwifery and Women's Health at King's College London, headed the two-year study. She found that, compared to national figures1, at the Albany Practice in 1999 there was:
* The highest home birth rate in the country (43% vs. 11%)
* Higher breastfeeding rates at birth (93% vs. 70%2)
* Lower induction rate (5% vs. 20%)
* Lower overall assisted delivery rate (5% vs. 11%)
* Lower caesarean rate (18% vs. 21%)
Speaking about the study Dr Sandall said: “At Albany, 89% of women had their primary midwife during their birth whom they had seen throughout pregnancy, and 98% saw their primary or second midwife at the birth. This model of care empowers women to make informed choices and gives them confidence in their body's ability to give birth. This study also shows that it is a myth that women in deprived areas don't want home births.”
1 Dr Foster Good Birth Guide
2 Infant Feeding Survey 2000, Department of Health
Notes to editors
King's College London
King's is one of the two oldest and largest colleges of the University of London with some 12,200 undergraduate students and over 4,500 postgraduates in ten schools of study. The College is among the country's top four higher education institutions for the number of highest-rated subject-areas for research quality. It is in the top group of five universities for research earnings and has an annual turnover of £285 million and research income from grants and contracts in excess of £80 million (1999-2000).
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