Belfast dispatch

26th October 2012

Right across the UK we see good maternity care policies in place, and Northern Ireland is no exception. The latest confirmation of that came in a recent speech by the country's minister of health, social services and public safety, Edwin Poots.

Speaking at an all-Ireland midwifery conference in mid-October, the Democratic Unionist minister said: 'I want pregnant women to have greater choice of where to give birth and for the highest quality care to be provided closer to home, tailored to meet the needs of the individual woman. Midwives have a major role in this change especially in being the first contact for women.'

Northern Ireland does well in terms of resources, too. At the end of March, there were the equivalent of 1040 full-time midwives working in the NHS there; up almost 120 on four years earlier. Over the same period, the number of babies born there fell by 358, meaning midwives have more time to spend with mothers and mothers-to-be.

We are seeing ministers increasingly sold on the right policies. We heard the minister for England’s NHS maternity services saying positive things recently (read about it here). Now we just need to ensure that, like Northern Ireland, there are enough midwives and student midwives elsewhere in the UK.