§ Mr. Bellingham
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action he will be taking over the Select Committee's recommendations regarding midwives regrading; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Mellor
I refer the hon. Member and my hon. Friend to my reply to the hon. Member for Wallsend (Mr. Garrett) and my hon. Friend the Member for Batley and Spen (Mrs. Peacock) on 10 May 1988, at columns450–51.
§ Mr. Cohen
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what proposals he has, arising from his White Paper "Working for Patients", to improve maternity care;
(2) whether he has any plans to improve access to care for mothers-to-be;
(3) whether he has any plans to ensure maternity care is provided near to home to avoid women having to travel long distances for antenatal and postnatal care;
(4) whether he has any plans to improve postnatal care;
(5) whether he has any plans to provide more antenatal care in the community;
(6) what is Her Majesty's Government's policy on whether maternity services should be based on an integrated pre-planned service or on emergency admission; what steps are being taken in respect of this policy; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Freeman
The proposals in "Working for Patients" are designed to improve all NHS services and apply as much to maternity as to any other service. The Government recognise the importance of continuity and accessibility of care throughout pregnancy and the need for close co-operation among professionals and with parents, particularly in planning the management of a pregnancy in accordance with the wishes of the mother-to-be. Under the White Paper's proposals maternity services will, therefore, continue to be provided locally for those wishing to make use of them and in order to cover emergency situations. The proposals are also designed to increase people's choice of where care is obtained, particularly for people living in large towns. It will remain for local decision how best to meet local needs.
From the Department's monitoring of the implementation of the Maternity Services Advisory Committee's recommendations, which include specific advice on improving accessibility to antenatal and postnatal care, it is evident that significant improvements have been made. We believe that the emphasis placed by the White Paper on putting patients first will stimulate further improvements. A questionnaire package, which has been developed by the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys at the request of the Department, will shortly be made available to all district health authorities to assist them in seeking to establish women's opinions on the maternity services provided to them.