National Childbirth Trust says strategy progress 'slow'

image captionMore than 30,000 women give birth in Wales every year

"Little progress" has been made in tackling issues raised in a report a year ago about maternity services in Wales, says a parenting charity.

The then Auditor General for Wales had said there was a need for a national strategy to tackle specific problems in the service, including staff training.

The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) has now called for "urgent action".

The assembly government said it was developing a strategy and midwifery services had continued to improve.

Anne Fox, NCT's head of campaigns and public policy, said: "It is concerning that a year has gone by and there has been little progress in improving care in Wales.

"Now is the time to act, to learn from the experiences of maternity service users and create a national strategy providing guidance on good service provision.

"NCT wants all women to receive one-to-one midwifery care during labour, and quality postnatal care which will optimise the health and wellbeing of the whole family."

The Wales Audit Office report last June from the then Auditor General for Wales Jeremy Colman highlighted a series of concerns, from staff training to how mothers feel they are treated.

It examined work at 12 NHS trusts and the Powys local health board during 2007 and 2008.

New mothers were also surveyed and, while many were satisfied, nearly a third felt they were "not always treated with kindness and understanding" during postnatal care.

It was found that eight NHS trusts, at the time of the audit, were failing to meet the recommended staffing levels for midwives.

'User involvement'

NCT said one of the report's recommendations was that maternity service users should be involved in the planning of maternity services through committees and forums.

The charity said in the past year maternity services liaison committees had not been meeting, and user involvement had "not been established as a way of planning and developing maternity services in Wales".

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson said: "Midwifery services have, and continue, to improve.

"However, we can always improve further and we are developing a strategy for maternity services and have already set out a number of requirements for health boards in this year's targets.

"Health boards are currently developing plans to improve local services.

"The publication of the UK-wide Midwifery 2020 in September will inform the future direction of midwifery services, and NCT have been involved in the development of that document."

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