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25 February 2016 08:05
Going for a scan can be time-consuming
Mums-to-be should all be allocated a budget to spend on NHS maternity services, a new review says.
The National Maternity Review says the move would enable pregnant women to organise their own tailor-made care plans.
Having a personal budget of about £3,000 would allow expectant mothers to choose where and how they receive care.
That would mean they could appoint their own midwife from a list of local providers enabling them, if they wished, to have one that would provide care throughout their pregnancy, when they give birth, and afterwards.
Mums-to-be, who can cover themselves while on holiday with a bespoke pregnancy travel insurance policy, could also choose to have their routine scans done at a hospital near their workplace, while opting for one nearer home to give birth in.
The review's authors say with half England's maternity services classed as either inadequate or in need of improvement when it comes to safety, the move would give women more choice about where and how they give birth.
The review acknowledges that big improvements have been made over the last 10 years but says there is still a widespread under-reporting of safety incidents among hospitals.
It claims there is "significant" scope for improvement in many maternity services to make safety more consistent.
The authors are also calling for a nationwide and standardised investigation process to be established. That, they add, would help improve safety and the quality of care by enabling lessons to be learned when things do go wrong.
It is envisaged the personal maternity budgets being proposed would work in a similar way to personal health budgets. These enable patients with disabilities and long-term conditions to have an input into how NHS funds are spent on their care.
Some critics, though, say personal care budgets can be abused, pointing out that there have been reports of some patients using the money to go on holiday or buy computers.
But the authors of the new review say the personal maternity budgets would only be able to be spent through accredited care providers.
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