Why do we need this research?
The term continuity of carer means having the same midwife or clinical team throughout the three phases of the maternity journey: pregnancy, labour and the postnatal period. This model of care is being implemented in many areas of the UK and can help reduce premature births, hospital admissions and the need for intervention during labour.
Women and birthing people from disadvantaged backgrounds or ethnic minority groups are more likely to have poor pregnancy outcomes, including stillbirth, maternal death and premature birth. We need to know whether the continuity of carer model can help improve outcomes for these people.
What’s happening in this project?
The continuity of carer team at Saint Mary’s Hospital in Manchester provides care during pregnancy, labour and after birth for an ethnically diverse and socially disadvantaged community who have significantly poorer health than the average population in England. Women and birthing people in this population have poorer pregnancy outcomes, with problems sometimes going undetected. To find out if the continuity of carer model is helpful for this community, our researchers are comparing their outcomes with a similar group of women from a different area who received traditional maternity care. Our team then want to work with women, birthing people and clinicians to co-design an enhanced care package – that may include bespoke midwifery training, culturally appropriate educational sessions and access to a link worker who speaks different languages – to see if it is possible to improve outcomes further.
In the future, our researchers also want to find out whether having the same care team during pregnancy and after birth – with care in labour provided by different midwives – is as effective as having the same care team throughout pregnancy, labour and after birth.
What difference will this project make?
The continuity of carer model is a key part of the NHS Long Term Plan to improve maternity care. Our research is therefore critical – if we show that continuity of carer teams improve outcomes for women and birthing people from disadvantaged backgrounds and ethnic minority groups, this could lead to the model being adopted in more areas of the country.