Calls for Investigation Into End of Ante-Natal Classes at York Hospital
4:49pm 14th January 2014
(Updated 5:06pm 14th January 2014)
York MP Hugh Bayley wants the health regulator NICE to review York NHS Foundation Trust’s decision to end ante-natal classes for pregnant women with effect from 1 January 2014, and to refer them instead to on-line advice.
The MP for York Central wants NICE to offer advice on the impact which this approach to ante-natal care will have on the health of women and new-born babies and to recommend whether it should be encouraged or discouraged.
The Health Minister, Dr. Daniel Poulter, offered to meet Hugh Bayley to discuss the issue. Their exchange in the Commons was as follows:
On 1 January, the York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust ceased providing antenatal advice classes for pregnant women and refers them instead to online advice on its website. Is that an approach the Government support, and will they urgently invite the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to review the change in policy and look at its effectiveness?
I am sympathetic to the point that the hon. Gentleman raises, and I am happy to meet him to discuss it further so that we can see whether the matter needs to be addressed.
Hugh Bayley met staff from the maternity department at York Hospital on 3rd October 2013 and urged them to offer the on-line advice which they were preparing and proposing to use in parallel with traditional face-to-face ante-natal classes for an extended period to allow researchers to carry out a thorough assessment of the impact of the new approach. The on-line advice was in use for only a few weeks before the traditional classes were abandoned, and no rigorous research has been carried out on the likely consequences.
Hugh Bayley MP says:
“I urged the health workers who designed the new approach to test out whether it is good at getting information and understanding across to pregnant women and their partners. They don’t seem to have taken any account of my concerns, which is why I raised it with the Minister. I am glad he will meet me to discuss this.”
York Teaching Hospital Foundation Trust say the decision to adopt an internet alternative because less than 30 per cent of pregnant women were attending antenatal classes. It's the first Trust in England to introduce online antenatal classes.It adds the videos allow more flexibility to women and their partners and also gives the same infornation which would be given if they attended a class face to face.
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