NHS England has announced a £127 million funding boost for maternity services that will help ensure safer and more personalised care for women.
At the NHS England board meeting on March 24, 2022, leaders announced that major investment will boost the workforce and help improve the culture in maternity services. The increase in funding will support maternity services in England and improve underfunded areas such as maternity scans, screening, midwife units and antenatal care.
Professor Jaqueline Dunkley-Bent OBE, NHS England’s Chief Midwifery Officer, said: “Midwives have a rewarding, important and privileged role, and this new funding will be vital in providing them with a continuous improvement process that that supports them personally and professionally, to enhance the quality of care for women and babies. We want the NHS to be the safest place in the world to give birth and this funding will help us to do this”.
Additional funds allocated to maternity services
The funding boost will strengthen maternity services across England, with more than £50m will be provided to Trusts across the country over the next two years to boost staffing numbers in maternity and neonatal services. Around £34m will also be invested in local maternity systems, in culture and leadership development programmes and in supporting staff retention roles. In addition, £45m of capital funding will be available to hospitals over the next three years to increase the number of neonatal cots across England so that babies will receive the best quality care in the most appropriate clinical setting.
Speaking at the monthly board meeting, NHS Chief Executive, Amanda Pritchard, said: “This new multi-million-pound funding will build on the significant steps we’ve taken in recent years to transform the care for pregnant women and their babies.
“We will not hesitate in taking further action to learn, improve and ensure that all women who use maternity services receive the best care possible”.
Developing and improving NHS services
This additional funding follows the £95m package of support for maternity services in England last year to boost staff numbers in maternity units with 1,300 new roles created alongside more training, development and leadership programmes.
The number of newly qualified midwives is set to increase in future years, with 450 extra students starting undergraduate midwifery courses this year compared to 2019.
Furthermore, Health chiefs have outlined how £8m of this funding will be used to support the retention of all midwives, support students and those with midwives with less experience. This investment supports the delivery of the NHS Long Term Plan’s ambition of making England the safest place in the world to give birth, whilst also accelerating action to reduce stillbirth by half, maternal mortality, neonatal mortality and serious brain injury by 2025.