NICE and safe staffing: The fight for more midwife-led care
Midwifery is about providing high-quality compassionate care and comfort at one of the most important times in a woman's life. However, factors outside an individual midwife's control can have a major impact on his or her ability to deliver this care. One such factor is the issue of safe staffing, around which there has been much debate, and which the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) (2014a) has recently taken steps to address with draft guidance on safe staffing in maternity care.
According to the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), despite the numbers of midwives exceeding that of previous years, when considering the number of women requiring maternity care, there is still a shortage of 3200 midwives (Cooper, 2014). There has been a push to provide more individualised midwife-led care and encourage women to make their own decisions about where and how they are most comfortable giving birth, particularly in light of the recently updated intrapartum care guidelines which indicated the safe outcomes of births across different maternity settings for healthy women with straightforward pregnancies (NICE, 2014b). However, higher numbers of midwives are needed across these settings to ensure that no matter where a woman chooses to give birth, she can expect safe and high-quality care (Cooper, 2014; NICE, 2014b).
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