Skip to main content

Maternity And Neonatal Services

Volume 35: debated on Tuesday 18 January 1983

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what advice he has received from the maternity services advisory committee on the draft set of minimum standards for staffing and equipment in maternity and neonatal services that was referred to it; and what action he intends to take in the light of that advice.

The Department presented to the committee draft guidance in the form of a check list for health authorities to use in the assessment of staffing and equipment standards in their maternity and neonatal units. The committee's advice was that the Department should not proceed further with consultations on this as a separate document. Instead, the committee would like to carry forward such guidance as an integral part of its wider ongoing study of good practice, of which the first part "Maternity Care in Action—Antenatal Care" has already been published. It expressed the belief that, as an advisory committee of experts representative of all the professional interests involved, it was well fitted to undertake this task. It indicated that if its proposal was accepted it would aim to incorporate recommendations on assessment of standards for maternity units in its report on care in childbirth and, for special and intensive care baby units, in its report on neonatal care.I agree with the committee's opinion that if the Department's draft guidance were issued separately, there could be inevitable confusion with the committee's own series of reports and perhaps a weakening of the impact which the Govenment and the committee hope to make on the whole spectrum of good practice. I am anxious to ensure that the Government's initiatives to encourage a continuous improvement in standards of maternity care should produce results that are clear and useful to everyone concerned in the field.The committee has already produced an outstanding first report—and I am confident that its forthcoming reports will be of an equally high standard. I have accepted its advice and asked the chairman to take the matter forward on this basis.