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Maternity Training Fund is rolled out

Tagged In:  Mental Health

Health Education England's £8 million cash injection for maternity staff training has now been distributed across all 136 NHS trusts with maternity services in England.

The Maternity Training Fund programme was announced in October 2016, as part of the Safer Maternity Care action plan. Originally, the intention was to give a minimum of £40,000 to each trust. However, applications exceeded the available fund by 25%. As a result, the three regional branches were given a proportional allocation to distribute across their trusts.

The Fund is intended to support trusts in providing training for their staff, targeted to the needs of individual multi-disciplinary teams, which often include allied health professionals such as sonographers as well as clinical staff. The Department of Health has also committed to looking at how to more effectively embed safety into existing training and continued professional development for doctors, nurses and midwives.

As a whole, the NHS is already a safe place to give birth. However, in the 2016 Lancet stillbirth series, the UK was ranked 24th out of 49 high-income countries for stillbirth rates.

The key objective of the Safer Maternity Care action plan is to halve rates of stillbirths, neonatal deaths, maternal deaths and birth-related brain injuries by 2030. As well as the £8 million training fund, other initiatives include a campaign to raise awareness of the symptoms that can lead to stillbirth, a £250,000 maternity safety innovation fund, a new National Quality Improvement Programme and maternity ratings for clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).

"It is vital that all of us working in maternity services constantly strive to ensure women and their babies can access the very best maternity care, " said Cathy Warwick, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives. "Safer Maternity Care reflects this ambition."

In March 2016 the Government announced that 90 NHS trusts across England had been awarded a share of more than £2 million to invest in new maternity safety equipment, including ultrasound machines and mother and baby monitoring equipment. "It is my ambition to ensure the NHS is one of the safest places in the world to have a baby," commented Health Minister Ben Gummer. "Our staff do an excellent job providing high quality care but it is vital that they have the right equipment to continue to do this."

The mental health of new mothers was a key focus in Spotlight on Maternity, published by the NHS Sign up to Safety campaign in March 2016: "It is clear that improving perinatal mental health care is not the responsibility of one discipline or team and it involves a range of health professionals including midwives, health visitors and GPs, as well as specialised perinatal mental health teams."

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