NHS sets out plan to road test maternity services of the future

NHS England has today (21 July) laid out new plans to improve maternity services and is calling on local areas to road test new ways of working.

The Maternity Transformation Programme has now identified nine working areas to take forward implementation of the recommendations set out in the report of the national maternity review, Better Births. These include supporting local transformation, promoting good practice for safer care and improving access to perinatal mental health services to make care safer and more personalised.

NHS England is today calling on local areas to act as Early Adopters to test a combination of all areas outlined in the programme. These will play a key role delivering action quickly and their experiences will pave the way for national roll-out of initiatives.

They will develop local change, through establishing Local Maternity Systems to ensure women and their babies receive safe, more personalised care that suits the needs of the local community.

New community hubs will also be developed to act as ‘one stop shops’ providing antenatal and postnatal services, alongside other health and social services all in one place. They will also ensure fast and effective referral to the right expert if a woman and her baby need more specialised services.

In March 2016, seven maternity choice and personalisation pioneers were chosen to test new approaches when it comes to choice and personalisation, allowing women to take control of decisions about the care they receive. They are up and running and will work alongside the chosen early adopter sites to drive forward the roll out of the model of care described in Better Births.

The newly appointed Chair of the Maternity Transformation Board, Sarah-Jane Marsh calls for action and collaboration across NHS maternity services.

She says: “Every mother, baby and pregnancy is special and unique – and deserves the very best care.  Better Births has given us a powerful blueprint for how we can now move towards safer, more personalised maternity services in England for each and every woman and baby that relies on us. We are resolute in our determination to implement this vision and move forward at pace. We have already identified seven parts of the country that will pioneer choice and personalisation, and are now calling on more local areas to play a vital role in delivering the ambition by testing new approaches to maternity services across the country.”

NHS England is working together with a wide range of organisations including the Royal Colleges, NHS Improvement, Department of Health, Health Education England and Public Health England to make the change envisaged in Better Births a reality.

The Maternity Transformation Programme has set out nine areas focusing on the specific areas identified in Better Births, these include:

  1. Supporting Local Transformation – By establishing Local Maternity Systems and community hubs, supported by Maternity Clinical Networks.
  2. Promoting good practice for safer care: Safety is a key theme throughout the maternity transformation programme, there is much good practice already in the NHS and this work stream aims to ensure widespread dissemination and adoption of best practice.
  3. Increasing Choice and Personalisation – Working with the seven Maternity Choice and Personalisation Pioneers to test new approaches to improve choice and empower women.
  4. Improving access to perinatal mental health services: this is a joint work stream between the Maternity Transformation Programme and the Perinatal Mental Health Project Board, part of the mental health programme.  It aims to improve access for women to high-quality specialist mental health care, closer to home, when they need it during the perinatal period.
  5. Transforming the workforce – Ensuring that we have the right work force with the right skills and the right support to implement the vision set out in Better Births.
  6. Sharing data and information – NHS England will work with others across the health service to identify a consistent set of indicators, for local use to benchmark quality and drive service improvement.
  7. Harnessing technology – NHS England is working with partner organisations to take forward recommendations from Better Births to develop a digital maternity tool and work towards the roll-out of patient-held digital maternity records.
  8. Reforming the payment system – NHS England, in partnership with NHS Improvement will review the existing payment system and make recommendations as to reforms necessary to deliver the proposed new models of care in maternity provision.
  9. Improving prevention – Public Health England is leading work to prevent poor outcomes through actions to improve women’s health – before, during and after pregnancy to ensure that families get off to the best start possible.


  1. Simon Says says:

    Why does the NHS churn out guidance without holding people to account for delivering it? Guidance for maternity services written before, and if put through a plagerism check would it raise questions. Is anybody responsible? Does the law (Health and Social Act 2012) matter etc

  2. O Wiseman says:

    What happened to continuity of midwifery care and promoting out of hospital births for low risk women?

  3. John Ferguson says:

    Would be keen to see what the measured success criteria is for all of these nine areas of focus. What will outstanding (or good) look like?