Starting well

A smiling couple with a baby

By wrapping care around the mother and her family, the NHS will make sure we give every child the best start in life possible, from birth to their transition into adulthood.

The NHS Long Term Plan will continue to improve maternity care over the next decade, while also improving services for children with common long-term conditions like asthma, epilepsy and diabetes.

These plans include making sure safety in maternity services continues to improve, offering women more choice, and specialist support is given to mothers who are at risk of premature birth, including support to stop smoking.

Hundreds of thousands more women will benefit from continuity of carer during pregnancy, which makes sure they have the same midwife throughout their pregnancy and after they have given birth. All women will be able to access their maternity notes and information online and on their smartphones too.

The Children and Young People’s Transformation Programme will improve care in mental health, learning disabilities and cancer services. It will support local areas to ensure joined up care for children and young people.

What we will do

  • Save thousands of lives by halving the number of stillbirths, mother and child deaths and serious brain injuries
  • Make sure most women can have the same midwife throughout their pregnancy and beyond delivering continuity of carer to ensure personal and safe care increase support for women and men who experience mental illness during or after pregnancy
  • Reduce A&E attendances from children by improving children’s health services, and making sure children with conditions like asthma, epilepsy and diabetes get the support they need to stay well
  • Treat a further 1,000 children a year for severe complications related to their obesity, such as diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, sleep apnoea and poor mental health.

Putting it into practice – perinatal mental health mother and baby units

Devon Partnership NHS Trust opened the first of four new Mother and Baby Units (MBU), repurposing unused space as a four-bed temporary MBU, allowing expectant and new mothers with serious mental health needs to be cared for with their babies.

Before this, mothers in the South West, in need of specialist perinatal mental healthcare, often had to travel long distances, as did their families.

By providing more specialist services such as this makes sure women who need inpatient care can be supported as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

Find out more

View our starting well case studies.

See what the NHS Long Term Plan says about starting well.