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26 March 2018

Government maternity policy shaped by King's research

Will Richard, Communications & Engagement Officer

Government plans follow models of maternity care proposed by King’s researchers.

ultrasound scan
ultrasound scan

New plans unveiled by Health and Social Care Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, follow models of maternity care proposed by King’s researchers.

As well as announcing an extra 3,000 midwives over the next four years, the government is promising ‘continuity of carers’ by 2021. This means that the majority of expectant mothers will be seen by the same midwife throughout pregnancy, labour and birth. 

Appearing on ITV's Peston on Sunday, Mr Hunt said, "continuity of carers" could potentially save 700 babies' lives a year and prevent a further 500 from being born with brain damage, but "it needs more midwives".

In his most recent announcement, putting this in to practice, Mr Hunt refers directly to research published by Jane Sandall CBE, Professor of Social Science and Women’s Health in the School of Life Course Sciences.

In a report published jointly by King’s and Green Templeton College, Oxford in April 2016, Professor Sandall conducted a comprehensive review of the evidence of the benefits to women, their families and the NHS of continuity of carer. Speaking of the government’s plans, she said:

The plans will contribute to improvements in experience and outcomes for women and babies. The announcement is informed by our research which shows women who used the model were 19% less likely to miscarry, and 24% less likely to give birth prematurely, as well have a better experience.

Professor Jane Sandall CBE

As a member of the NHS England expert advisory group, Professor Sandall has worked with the government over the past two years. The new 'continuity of carer' model is now being trialled in Lewisham, London as a collaboration between King’s and the NIHR CLAHRC South LondonLewisham CCGLondon Borough of Lewisham and Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Trust.