A coalition of healthcare organisations has put out a call for improved buildings, facilities and spaces for maternity services.
In an open letter to Health Minister Nadine Dorries last week, the One Voice coalition asked for a ‘wholesale review’ of NHS estates, including upgrades to maternity infrastructure to improve care for women and staff working conditions.
Old and poorly designed buildings were identified by the coalition as one of the areas holding back the improvement of maternity services, according to the Royal College of Midwives (RCM). It was also noted that the layouts of facilities prevented partners from being in buildings to support partners, due to social distancing concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The One Voice coalition of health providers includes RCM, as well as the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, National Childbirth Trust (NCT) and Sands – the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death charity.
It has asked for a focus on better facilities including requests for improvements and a rethinking of the designs of hospital spaces, such as more single rooms, plus specific areas for clinics and scans.
Sands also highlighted that bereaved families were restricted and impacted during the pandemic, due to dedicated bereavement rooms being used for other services – it is hoped improved spaces in this area will also be included in future design planning.
Gill Walton, Royal College of Midwives (RCM) Chief Executive and Co-chair of One Voice, said: “Many women suffered significant distress during the pandemic because they could not have partners with them. Something as simple as a well-designed building can make a huge difference to the experiences of women and their families using maternity services.
“We have had a significant injection of money into England’s maternity services to increase staffing levels and support better training. We now need a similar commitment to improve the buildings these services are in.
“Many of the buildings used are old and in need of repair. They are simply not fit for purpose.”
Find out more about the coalition and its call for better facilities at https://www.rcm.org.uk/.