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Workforce analysis of maternity support workers – A national scoping study

Investigators: J Sandall*, J Manthorpe.
Project Funding: DH Policy Research Programme.

This study was commissioned in October 2006 by the Department of Health in order to provide  a systematic overview of the numbers, scope and range of practice, levels of training, skill mix and service model arrangements of support workers working in maternity services in England. A telephone questionnaire of a representative sample of NHS Trusts providing maternity care in England was conducted achieving a total respondent sample of 94 maternity units. 

There is great potential for support workers to contribute to improving the quality of maternity care and facilitating women’s choices. However, the lack of consistency regarding title, task and training has the potential to leave women, managers and midwives with uncertainty as to the scope of practice and competence of the individual support worker. There was very little evidence of the impact on quality of care and resource use in terms of the contribution of the support workforce, and there is a need to model the likely effects of workforce scenarios on expected outcomes and costs. 

Sandall,J. Manthorpe,J. Mansfield,A. Spencer,L. (2007) Support workers in Maternity Services: a national scoping study of NHS Trusts providing maternity care in England 2006, Final Report to Department of Health, King’s College, London.

Sandall J, Mansfield A, Manthorpe J. (2007)  Support Workers in Maternity Services – a rapid scoping study of their work in England in 2006, Journal of Family Healh Care, 17,6.
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