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'Lives at risk' from GP maternity cuts

Mothers and babies are being put at 'considerable risk' because of reductions in funding for GP maternity care, the RCGP has warned.

The college claimed GPs were being 'systematically excluded' from antenatal care, in its submission to a King's Fund inquiry into the safety of maternity services.Its submission warned GPs now saw pregnant women so rarely they were losing the skills to manage antenatal emergencies – and that midwives lacked the training to take over the GP role.Despite widespread midwife shortages, the Government is pushing midwifery-led care and NICE is developing a tool for midwives to risk assess pregnant women.But Dr Maureen Baker, RCGP honorary secretary, warned this role should be retained by the GP. 'Midwives are not trained in diagnosis and do not have automatic access to women's medical records or a broad knowledge of other aspects of medicine.'She added: 'The funding for antenatal care has been greatly reduced since the introduction of the new contract. As a result, GPs are becoming de-skilled – at considerable risk to the safety of women and babies.'Dr Nigel Watson, chief executive of Wessex LMCs, said: 'Now there is a shortage of midwives and we are getting patients turning up, but it is for stop-gap rather than continuing care. There is no continuity of care.'A recent Pulse survey discovered cash-strapped PCOs across the UK were cutting back services and Dr Baker warned: 'There are midwifery staff shortages in most areas that can compromise safe care, especially on a delivery suite.'

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