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RQIA Publishes Findings of its Review of Northern Ireland’s Strategy for Maternity Care, 30 March 2017

RQIA has published the findings of its review of the Strategy for Maternity Care in Northern Ireland 2012-18, which assessed progress on its implementation and identified issues affecting its delivery.  During the review, RQIA’s expert team engaged with health and social care staff responsible for commissioning and delivering maternity services, the Public Health Agency and the Safety Forum.  We also held focus groups to hear GP views on the implementation of this strategy.

While we found that significant work has been undertaken to progress the strategy, and there is good support for its implementation, further work is required to fully deliver its objectives.

Our review team found a wide range of health initiatives has been developed within trusts to promote healthy lifestyles, and to support women before and during their pregnancy.  However, the review team found a need for a more coordinated regional approach to pre-conceptual care for women.  While significant progress has been made in antenatal care and for safe labour and birth, there is a need for the establishment of midwifery-led care at every obstetric unit in Northern Ireland, in addition to the freestanding midwifery-led units in some hospitals.

The review team identified perinatal mental health as an ongoing challenge – and in RQIA’s recently published review we recommended the development of specialist perinatal mental health services in each HSC trust.  The team also highlighted the need for a further focus on postnatal care during the remainder of the strategy implementation period.

We found committed leaders and evidence of multi-disciplinary working, but workforce issues have been highlighted that have the potential to impact significantly on maternity services across Northern Ireland.

Our review makes 19 recommendations to support improvement in the implementation of the maternity strategy.  Read our press release and the full report to find out more.