ASPIRE COVID-19 UK
UK policy is for safe, personalised maternity care. However, during COVID-19 face to face provision of antenatal and postnatal tests and visits have been reduced in some places, and some women with worrying symptoms are not going to hospital. Other places are trying new solutions, including remote access technologies. Some Trusts have reduced community maternity services, including home and birthcentre births; barred birth companions from accompanying their partners during ultrasound scans and in early labour; and reduced or stopped visiting to postnatal and neonatal wards. There have been media reports of women giving birth at home without professional help, either because midwives are unavailable, or for fear of being infected with COVID19 if they go to hospital. Other Trusts have been able to keep all or most of their services going, and have rapidly developed innovative solutions to the issues raised by the pandemic. Reports from various professional and policy organisations suggest that these issues have had an effect on service users, their families, and maternity care staff.
In contrast to increased centralisation of maternity care in the UK, some parts of the Netherlands have focused on maintaining community maternity services during COVID-19 as far as possible. Building on experiences in the UK and the Netherlands, we will find out how best to provide care for mothers, babies, and partners during and after a pandemic. We will look at what documents and national leads say about service organisation in both countries, and at women’s experiences. We will also look in detail at 8 NHS Trusts. We will find out how their services have been organised during COVID-19, the experiences and feelings of parents and staff, and what the outcomes have been, including infections. Throughout the study, we will work with key stakeholders. Finally, we will agree on an organisational model that can be used across the UK to ensure safe, personalised routine maternity and neonatal care, both during pandemics and other similar crises ,and for routine care into the future.
Part of the study is the third round of the international Babies Born Better survey. We are seeking the views and experiences of women who have had a baby over the last 3 years in the UK, Netherlands, and around the world. Over 80,000 women from more than 30 countries replied to the last two rounds. The survey is currently available in 14 languages, and can be accessed here:https://www.babiesbornbetter.org/