"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to improve maternity services for all. Whether you are low risk or high risk, everyone should receive the best care."

Thursday 21 July saw the launch of NHS England’s Maternity Transformation Programme, laying out new plans to improve maternity services and calling on local areas to road test new ways of working.

NHS England, incollaborationwith a wide range of organisations including Tommy's, has now launched the Maternity Transformation Programme to drive forward implementation of the vision set out in Better Births, the report of the National Maternity Review.

The programme addresses a series of recommendations which set out wide-ranging proposals designed to make care safer, give women greater control and more choices.

This really gives a chance for the midwifery workforce across the country to review what is working well and what change may be needed to further improve maternity services for women.

"Everyone should receive the best care tailored to their needs, which provides the best start for baby, and a good experience for mothers."

Tommy's Chief Executive Jane Brewin is part of the committee overseeing the implementation and attended yesterday's launch:

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to improve maternity services for all. Whether you are low risk or high risk, everyone should receive the best care tailored to their needs, which provides the best start for baby, and a good experience for mothers.

Tommy’s will contribute by developing information which will help women to improve their lifestyle behaviours and also help them to assert their wishes and concerns with their NHS provider. We’ll also help women to spot the signs when things might be need to be investigated further.

Our other major contribution is developing evidence on how best to assess those at risk, treatment and optimal care for those that do find themselves at risk of a pregnancy problem by funding medical research at each of our four centres.

In addition Birmingham Women’s hospital (one of the locations of the Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research) is one of the early adopter sites and Sarah Jane Marsh, who is leading the implementation of the review, is the Chief Executive of the hospital.

I represent Tommy's on the committee that will oversee the implementation of the review, and essentially hold Sarah-Jane Marsh to account. It’s clear to see that she is absolutely determined to see this through and has the knowledge and experience to do so.

There are many elements of the review which should transform the care for families; continuity of care, joining up all the services in one place that might be needed for pregnant mums, and much better communication and working between everyone involved in a mother’s care.

So much of what is proposed sounds like good common sense and good news.

The challenge is to ensure it is implemented well across the NHS so that everyone can benefit from the best possible care. The implementation team are absolutely committed to involve everyone who wants to express their views and help to move it forward and ensure that women’s views are at the centre of the whole process."

The Maternity Transformation Programme has set out nine areas focusing on the specific areas identified in Better Births, these include:

  1. Supporting Local Transformation – By establishing Local Maternity Systems and community hubs, supported by Maternity Clinical Networks.
  2. Promoting good practice for safer care: Safety is a key theme throughout the maternity transformation programme, there is much good practice already in the NHS and this work stream aims to ensure widespread dissemination and adoption of best practice.
  3. Increasing Choice and Personalisation – Working with the seven Maternity Choice and Personalisation Pioneers to test new approaches to improve choice and empower women.
  4. Improving access to perinatal mental health services: this is a joint work stream between the Maternity Transformation Programme and the Perinatal Mental Health Project Board, part of the mental health programme.  It aims to improve access for women to high-quality specialist mental health care, closer to home, when they need it during the perinatal period.
  5. Transforming the workforce – Ensuring that we have the right work force with the right skills and the right support to implement the vision set out in Better Births.
  6. Sharing data and information – NHS England will work with others across the health service to identify a consistent set of indicators, for local use to benchmark quality and drive service improvement.
  7. Harnessing technology – NHS England is working with partner organisations to take forward recommendations from Better Births to develop a digital maternity tool and work towards the roll-out of patient-held digital maternity records.
  8. Reforming the payment system – NHS England, in partnership with NHS Improvement will review the existing payment system and make recommendations as to reforms necessary to deliver the proposed new models of care in maternity provision.
  9. Improving prevention – Public Health England is leading work to prevent poor outcomes through actions to improve women’s health – before, during and after pregnancy to ensure that families get off to the best start possible.

Further information about the Maternity Transformation Programme can be found here.