Healthcare professionals are being encouraged to offer their feedback on new regulations aimed at increasing the number of staff employed in midwifery jobs in the NHS.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued its second draft guideline for safe staffing in the NHS, providing advice on how to make the right decisions about safe midwifery staffing levels.
It outlines the responsibilities of hospital managers and actions organisations should consider as part of their midwife staff planning, as well as processes that registered midwives should use to determine whether there are sufficient staff to provide for the needs of women and babies.
To ensure that women are able to give birth safely, it was recommended that all patients should have at least one registered midwife present during established labour, though the exact number and skill mix should be determined by the midwife based on the needs of the situation.
Since maternity services often experience fluctuating demand, the guidelines call for appropriate escalation plans to be put in place, with proposed responses including delegating activities to other staff or using temporary staff, with steps such as cancelling appointments or clinic closures only used as a last resort.
The draft version of the guidelines have now been published for consultation, with stakeholders encouraged to offer their opinions and feedback on the proposed regulations between now and November 13th 2014.
Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE, said: "We are now actively seeking feedback from midwives, hospital trusts, doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals, as well as members of the public, to ensure the views of all relevant stakeholders are reflected in the final guideline."
The Royal College of Midwives has long been campaigning for an increase in midwife staff numbers, an aim that these new regulations should help to support. The issue of safe staffing has become an increasingly prominent one since the publication of the Francis Report last year.
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