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Independents' Day

GP contract could include postnatal six-week check, says minister

A contractual obligation for GPs to carry out six-week postnatal checks is being considered for the 2020/21 contract, a health minister has stated.

Under current rules, post-natal care can be delivered by a number of providers including midwives, health visitors and GPs. 

The six-week check is not part of core GMS services - nor additional maternal and child health surveillance, which GPs can opt out of. 

The role of GPs in delivering postnatal checks has been under debate in recent years and the issue was included in the 2019/20 negotiations

In a response to a written MP question, Nadine Dorries, parliamentary under-secretary for health and social care said a decision on whether to include the six-week maternal postnatal check had not yet been taken. 

But she added that ‘NHS England and NHS Improvement are reviewing the available evidence to establish a clearer picture of current practice in this area’. 

Her response was to a question from Jonathan Ashworth, Labour's shadow health and social care secretary, about what assessment had been made of the 'potential merits' of GPs conducting a routine postnatal physical and mental health check for all new mothers. 

In a separate parliamentary debate on the mental health provision in the NHS funding settlement, former Conservative health minister Steve Brine MP said currently opportunities were being missed to identify potential mental health issues. 

‘For example, we should be changing the GP contract so that when new mums go for the six-week check with their babies, they get a maternal mental health check at the same time. There are already opportunities, but we are missing them,' he said.

He pointed to the National Childbirth Trust’s Hidden Half campaign, which aims to improve the six-week postnatal check. 

The charity want to see all women asked about general wellbeing, how the perineum is recovering and healing including checking stitches, a caesarean scar check, blood pressure check, lochia, changes to the body and weight loss advice if requested, feeding and breastfeeding, bladder and bowels, and contraception. 

The BMA said they could not comment on current negotiations.


Readers' comments (11)

  • I must have been labouring under some misapprehension, as this is exactly what I’ve been doing at the 6 week check for the last 25 years

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  • It just shows how out of touch the leaders are. I have been doing that for years.

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  • not a contractual requirement so not what we offer.. there are midwives and health visitors to do this

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  • National Hopeless Service

    Been doing it but there is not one ounce of evidence it serves any purpose

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  • I just don't understand why every year the government think what more can we put in to the contact.

    It is blindingly obvious that if stuff is removed from the contract it will:
    - encourage GPs not to immediately retire
    - encourage GPs to move abroad less
    - encourage GPs not to move to careers other than GP
    - have more appointments available to deliver core care
    - meaning fewer people going to hospital
    - and fewer people dying
    - saving billions of pounds.

    Sometimes less is more. It takes a moron to not see that.

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  • I seem to have been doing all of this since copernicus' time!
    Might start refusing now that I know it's not in core services!
    Thanks for brining it to my attention.

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  • Midwives , health visitors, hospital ANP, consultants ---- anyone but GPs please. (and it's mainly a waste of time )

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  • Thanks Minister

    I didn't realise that I didn't need to do these checks. I will no longer do them.

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  • i never understood why we do them anyway and why its not done by the midwife or HV team or by a nurse. Now I know we don't have to do them I will refer checks for any wound issues and contraception etc etc to the nurse/ANP/PA/paramedic. thanks for letting me know though.

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  • we have been doing these for years. better start getting paid for them in that case.

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  • No evidence base to support the value of this being done by GP versus any other suitably trained professional. They still don’t understand that we are already knackered do they

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