Hospitals across Wales are being given new guidance aimed at improving the care of pregnant and post-natal women and their babies.

Welsh health minister Lesley Griffiths’s plans, outlined during a visit to the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, include ensuing all patients in maternity units receive excellent care while having their dignity and respect maintained.

Health boards were warned by the minister that maternity services will not be allowed to “drift” and changes must be made.

A key part of the plan will be to promote healthy lifestyles for women before, during and after pregnancy.

Ms Griffiths said every woman, no matter where they live, their social background, their circumstances or their ethnicity, should be able to access and receive “safe, high quality care”.

She added: “Our maternity service is already one we can be proud of, but there are improvements to be made.”

“My vision is a service that promotes pregnancy and childbirth as an event of social and emotional significance where women and their families are treated with dignity and respect.

Local health boards will determine how services are organised at local level to achieve this vision, and I expect them to be open and to work with communities as they plan changes.

“Safety, quality, recruitment and cost must be at the heart of any changes.”