Tory NHS aims downgraded as midwives praise Government on maternity care

The Royal College of Midwives has praised the Government's record on maternity care, saying it is hard to see how the proposed Tory NHS changes would happen.

Following David Cameron’s u-turn yesterday on marriage taxes, reported by Left Foot Forward, holes have begun to emerge in the Conservative party’s draft NHS manifesto, published this week.

Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley had pledged to create an extra 45,000 single rooms by the end of the first term of a Tory Government, at a cost of £1.5 billion, brushing off criticisms it could not be funded – this has now been downgraded to an unspecified increase “as resources allow”.

The manifesto also pledges the party to merely scrapping all “politically motivated process targets”. Mr Lansley had previously vowed to scrap “all central government health targets”, another apparent watering-down of Tory policy.

On maternity care, the Royal College of Midwives dealt a blow to Mr Cameron’s pledge to make services “more personal and more local”, saying “it is hard to see how the changes the Conservatives are proposing for maternity services will happen”. The RCM added:

“The Government is committed to midwifery-led services, to women having choice, to user-involvement and to reducing unnecessary interventions and health inequalities. The NHS’s Operating Framework for 2010/11 stresses the Government’s commitment to maternity services and to linking payment for services to quality and patient satisfaction. The Government is also currently considering how to ensure that the payment system for services helps to deliver their policy for maternity services. It, therefore, is difficult to see exactly what is different in the Conservative Party’s promise for maternity services.

“The rising birth rate has undoubtedly made it difficult for the Government’s maternity policy commitments to be fully implemented but the RCM believes that change is starting to happen. The question is whether or not this can be sustained in the current economic downturn. Midwifery-led units are not closed because of Government policies. They are closed because local maternity service providers face an unprecedented challenge to maintain a full range of choice of services for women in the face of economic pressures.”

And, in an article for Progress, Paul Corrigan – former Director of NHS London and health policy adviser to Tony Blair – says:

“Their policies contain straightforward themes of public service reform, but their problem is caused by the contradiction between their policies and their politics … Andrew Lansley commits himself to stopping changes to maternity services in Bury by saying: ‘I will have the power to do that within days if we are elected.’ But this is not in fact true because he will be elected on a policy of removing that power from himself.

9 Responses to “Tory NHS aims downgraded as midwives praise Government on maternity care”

  1. isaac kurira

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tory NHS aims downgraded as midwives praise Government on maternity care: //is.gd/5RJqA

  2. Tim Nicholls

    RT: @leftfootfwd Tory NHS aims downgraded as midwives praise Government on maternity care: //is.gd/5RJqA

  3. gsdog7

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tory NHS aims downgraded as midwives praise Government on maternity care: //is.gd/5RJqA

  4. Politics... - StudentMidwife.NET

    […] Politics… GA_googleFillSlot("smnet_InPost"); //www.leftfootforward.org/2010/…aternity-care/ […]

  5. Solomon Hughes

    The thing that stands out from the Tory Draft Health Manifesto is that they intend reviving and ramping up Labour’s ISTC policy. Just at the point Andy Burnham slowed down the handover of NHS services to private firms, Cameron promises to get it going again, and expand it . In fact the manifesto seems to promise that you can take your NHS money and spend it with any private health firm:-

    ” we will open up the NHS to include new independent and voluntary sector providers – if they can deliver a service that patients want, to a high standard and within the NHS tariff, then they should be allowed to do so”

    Unfortunately, the Labour front bench – or people like Corrigan, won’t have a go at the Conservative health privatisation promises, because they (at least partly) admire Cameron’s stand. Which is a shame, because Cameron’s health privatisation is potentially unpopular.
    Cameron’s plans may be popular with Patricia Hewitt, though: see

    //www.morningstaronline.co.uk/index.php/news/content/view/full/85286

  6. Politics Summary: Friday, January 8th | Left Foot Forward

    […] week the Conservatives have already ditched pledges of 45,000 single rooms in NHS hospitals – reported yesterday by Left Forward – and a moratorium on hospital closures, with several other […]

  7. William Heald

    The statements you have made are misleading. Andrew Lansley pledged to create an extra 45,000 single rooms by the end of the first term just two weeks after Lehman Brothers fell 18 months ago. Sadly back then the full extent of our economic woes were still becoming evident. Since then, as the figures have slowly come out, the Conservatives have pointed out that the huge budget deficit 12% of GDP, representing the terrible state of public finances, means that until the Conservative have full access to the finances it is impossible to promise for certain how much the resources will allow.

    If there is money for 45,000 single rooms the Conservatives would pursue it. The policy has stayed the same, but until the first audit of the accounts under the Conservatives it is impossible to tell how much will be available and whether Labour’s economic mishandling makes this feasible.

    I should also point out that in response to your comments on midwives the Royal College of Midwives admitted in November 2009 that it was struggling to deliver ‘choice’ on midwife services because the NHS was 5,000 midwives short. They also said on January 4th when the Conservative manifesto was released:

    “The RCM is pleased that maternity services are prominent in the Conservative Party’s health plans and particularly welcomes their commitment to local midwifery-led services and recognition of the importance of maternity networks. It is critical if women are to have a choice of maternity services and safe care that referrals from midwifery-led services to obstetric services are efficient. The RCM also endorses the plan’s rejection of ‘bigger and bigger baby factories’ and agrees that women should not be turned away from the maternity service of their choice.”

  8. Martin Jee

    Question for Mr Straw: do you have a private healthcare insurance scheme?

  9. diana smith

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tory NHS aims downgraded as midwives praise Government on maternity care: //is.gd/5RJqA

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