HM Prison Low Newton, Durham: The development of perinatal and maternity care pathways for women in the judicial system

The need to offer women in the judicial and prison systems high quality perinatal and maternity care has been highlighted at the national level.

But it was a need additionally emphasised at HM Prison Low Newton following a coroner’s recommendations in response to a perinatal death of a woman in custody there.

Key among those recommendations was the need to improve communication and to introduce clear accountability in care provision for pregnant women in prison.

A project was, therefore, launched to develop a collaborative maternity care pathway and local prison midwifery caseload management. A specialist midwife was recruited to manage the project, the availability of mental health support improved, and workforce awareness training instituted.

Early evaluation suggests that maternal and infant health outcomes have improved since the changes; that there has been a reduced need to transfer women out of the prison for routine care; and that women feel the approach offers greater consistency of care.

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