I am glad that women who are healthy and have not experienced complications can choose to give birth in the place that feels right for them. One of these options is a midwifery unit, which are led by midwives and offer a comfortable and relaxed environment.
You may be aware that NHS England and NHS Improvement have committed to the rollout of Midwifery Continuity of Carer, so that it becomes the default model of care for women using maternity services across England by March 2023. This will ensure consistency in the midwife or clinical team that provides hands on care for a woman and her baby throughout the three phases of her maternity journey. This will deliver better care for women and improve safety and outcomes. NHS England and NHS Improvement have provided Local Maternity Systems with £90.05 million from 2018 to 2021 to fulfil transformational objectives, including implementing Continuity of Carer models. An additional £96 million was announced earlier this year in response to the emerging findings from the Ockenden Report, the majority of which will be invested in additional midwives and obstetric capacity.
Further, I welcome the investments made by this Government to increase the number of midwives by expanding midwifery training places by 3,650 over a four-year period to 2022/23 and making a non-repayable, training grant of at least £5,000 per academic year available for eligible midwifery students.
The decision over how maternal services are delivered, including the availability of midwifery units, is made by Clinical Commissioning Groups who decide what services are needed for local populations. However, I appreciate the concerns about not being able to access the desired services, and I will raise this issue with the relevant stakeholders to ensure they are aware.