Dedicated midwifery-led unit planned by 2020 as maternity vision for Leeds launched

A distinct midwifery-led unit is being planned in Leeds to better support the 10,000 births that occur in the city every year.

Coun Lisa Mulherin, Matthew Ward, chief operating officer at NHS Leeds South and East Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), and Dr Jane Mischenko, lead commissioner for children's services at the CCG, launch the maternity strategy.

The news came as part of the launch of a new maternity strategy for Leeds today, which also aims to offer more personalised support to women, create a new ‘Baby Buddy’ app, give targeted support to groups such as women with learning difficulties and offer more choices in terms of home birth as part of its nine priorities by 2020.

After public workshops, a survey of more than 800 women and partnership work with Leeds City Council, the five-year strategy was unveiled by NHS Leeds South and East Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) at Aspire in Leeds city centre.

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It comes after a health needs assessment for 2014 revealed over 460 pregnant Leeds women are thought to experience domestic violence, while up to 500 pregnant women in the city may need drug and alcohol support every year.

Dr Jane Mischenko, lead commissioner for children’s services at the CCG, said there are “real issues” around providing personalised care and a positive birthing experience for all.

She said: “This strategy is an important milestone and will ensure that women in Leeds have the safest pregnancy and best birth experience possible.”

A maternity programme board will now oversee the development of detailed plans to take forward the priorities.

Coun Lisa Mulherin, the council’s lead member for health and wellbeing, added that she hopes the strategy will help “narrow the gap” between the health of the poorest and richest in the city.