This means midwives are not always able to offer woman one-to-one care during labour, as recommended by NICE. A failure to deliver one-to-one care means problems are more likely to occur. The Royal College of Midwives calculates that the NHS in England would need 3,000 more midwives to be able to offer all women one-to-one care.
Labour has a better plan for maternity care. We have announced that, for the first time, all women in labour will be guaranteed personalised one-to-one care from a midwife. It will mean:
· A midwife solely dedicated and able to give her full commitment to the woman all the time she is in labour.
· A guarantee of one-to-one care which is widely accepted to improve the quality and safety of care for women and babies, and is more likely to lead to a positive experience of childbirth
One-to-one care means that a woman in established labour receives care from a designated midwife for the whole of that labour. This means that a midwife will be able to care for the woman 100 per cent of the time. The one-to-one care will cover the labour, the birth and the period immediately after giving birth.
The guarantee will be enshrined as a new right in the NHS constitution, made possible by our commitment to recruit 3,000 more midwives by 2020 – through our £2.5bn Time to Care Fund, funded through a mansion tax on properties over £2m, tackling tax avoidance and a new levy on tobacco firms – but our aim will be to achieve it as soon as possible within the next Parliament.
This is part of Labour’s broader plan to make sure the NHS is sustainable and fit for the future. Rather than simply responding to problems, we need to focus on promoting good health and preventing ill health – starting at the very beginning of life.
Our announcement on midwifery care is part of our health and care manifesto, which you can read in full here.