This announcement comes ahead of the NHS mandate - published next week - which will reinforce commitments around improving care, support and experience for women during pregnancy.
Mums and their babies are to get new support with a £25 million fund to improve birthing environments. Maternity services will be able to apply for new funds to improve their maternity environments. They can bid for ensuite facilities, rooms where partners can stay overnight or a wider range of facilities available like birthing pools. This means women will be able to give birth with more dignity and in more comfort.
As a further boost to new parents, the NHS Information Service for Parents is being expanded to cover older babies up to six months old and by April 2013 will be further expanded to cover children up to 18 months of age. The Information Service provides parents with free advice that parents can trust through regular emails, videos and texts on the issues that matter most to them - including all aspects of pregnancy and baby care, bonding and relationship support.
The service includes emails and video material on postnatal depression so that women and their partners can spot the signs of postnatal depression. It reminds both mums and dads to seek help from their GP if they think they or their partner is feeling more tired or down than usual.
This builds on the Government’s pledges to:
- improve early diagnosis and support for postnatal depression;
- ensure every woman can choose where they give birth; and
- ensure every woman has a named midwife when they give birth.
Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said:
“A new arrival in the family is a joyous time but can present challenges for mums and families, particularly new families. I want to help women and their partners as much as possible.
“Women with postnatal depression need care and support, not stigma. That’s why early diagnosis for this traumatic condition and support for parents is so important.
“There will now be £25 million available to improve maternity facilities but not a penny of this will be given out unless there is evidence that women have been asked about the changes they want in their local areas. Whether it’s more ensuite facilities, overnight rooms for dads, birthing pools or other improvements to the care and experience of women during pregnancy and childbirth.
“Over 73,000 parents have signed up to the Information Service for Parents since May 2012, this extension will help us to support parents for longer.”
Since May the NHS Information Service for Parents has been available to every new parent to sign up to is their chid is under four weeks. We have just extended the service to cover babies up to 6 months old, and from next year it will grow to support parents with babies and young children up to 18 months old. That means doubling the length of support provided to parents.
This support for new parents, both before and after birth, will help both parents and their children. NHS maternity services already deliver high quality care, but the Government believes that there is more than can be done to improve mothers’ experience and to make the choices and standards of care more consistent across the country.
- The NHS mandate - to be published next week - will be the main way the Government holds the NHS to account. It:
- Sets the long-term direction for the NHS.
- Ensures the NHS is focussed on achieving the results that matter most to patients.
- Gives those who understand what patients need best, doctors and nurse, more power and independence to deliver the best care patients deserve.