Missing maternity services in regional NHS plans

By RCM on 21 December 2016 NHS Maternity Services STPs - Sustainability and Transformation Plans

Omissions are ‘very disappointing’ says RCM as it publishes new report

Half of all new plans for the NHS across England do not mention or include very little detail about maternity services. These are the findings of new analysis published today by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), of NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans* (STP).

As part of the NHS’s Five Year Forward View organisations across England have been asked to put forward Sustainability and Transformation Plans* (STP) for the NHS in their area.

The RCM report lists all areas that have submitted STPs and where they have included or not, maternity services in the plans.

The RCM has analysed the 35 STPs out of 44 that have been published.  The RCM is concerned that - outside of London in particular - there is little or no reference to maternity transformation in so many STPs.

Areas including West Yorkshire, around Bristol and Kent, Cambridge and some parts of the Home Counties make no mention of maternity services in their plans.

Those who make passing references with little or no detail include Lancashire, Cheshire, Merseyside, Suffolk and Surrey Heartlands.

Some areas do include substantial information on their plans for maternity services. These include areas in the north east, Humberside, the west midlands and large parts of the south west. London in particular is leading the way on maternity with all the STPs for London including substantial detail about plans for maternity services.

The plans should include how they will meet and deliver the aims of the Governments National Maternity Review, Better Births, published earlier this year. Maternity services in England are meant to be embarking on a programme to transform their services in order to make them safer, more effective and more responsive to women’s needs.

Commenting on the findings, Cathy Warwick, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “When there is meant to be a programme of maternity services transformation it is disappointing that there is little or no reference to this in so many of the plans which will drive service change. This may be simply an issue of timing with the Maternity Review reporting whilst the STPs were being worked up but it does raise a possibility that change in maternity services is just not considered to be a priority.

“In fact high quality maternity services are the bedrock of a healthier population. It is where important public health gains can be made, leading to healthier mothers and also healthier babies with benefits lasting into adulthood.

“We urgently need to see the detail on how all areas are going to meet the recommendations of the Government’s National Maternity Review.”

To contact the RCM Press Office call 020 7312 3456 or email [email protected].


Notes to editors

* STPs are five-year plans covering all aaspects of NHS spending in England. Forty-four areas have been identified as the geographical ‘footprints’ on which the plans are based, with an average population size of 1.2 million people (the smallest covers a population of 300,000 and the largest 2.8 million).


A named individual has led the development of each STP. Most STP leaders come from clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and NHS trusts or foundation trusts, but a small number come from local government.


For more information see https://www.england.nhs.uk/ourwork/futurenhs/deliver-forward-view/stp/.

The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website at https://www.rcm.org.uk/.