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Ante-natal Care

Volume 450: debated on Monday 23 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she is taking to ensure that the needs of women with new babies (a) whose command of English is poor, (b) with mental illness or drug misuse and (c) who are from parts of the world where infections such as (i) HIV, (ii) hepatitis B and (iii) syphilis are more prevalent, are not neglected under the choose and book system due to a reduced likelihood of their arranging an appointment for ante-natal care. (92298)

The maternity standard of the national service framework for children, young people and maternity services asks all national health service maternity care providers and primary care trusts (PCTs) to improve the access and effectiveness of maternity services for women from disadvantaged and minority groups and communities by systematically taking account of the reasons why women from these groups find it difficult to access and maintain contact with maternity services, and by actively designing services to overcome these barriers to care. The standard also asks maternity care providers and PCTs to make provision for translation, interpreting and advocacy services based on an assessment of the needs of the local population.

We have put into place a concentrated work programme to implement the maternity standard and to meet the manifesto commitment and “Our Health, Our Care, Our Say” White Paper commitments on maternity. Some of the key areas we are focussing on are choice and broadening access to services for vulnerable women.