Seven years after its closure by King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust due to the Trust’s stated concerns about safety, the Albany Midwifery Practice has been demonstrated by independent researchers to have had outstanding outcomes for mothers and babies.
The Albany Midwifery Practice was a ground-breaking NHS continuity of care model that went through a number of rigorous evaluations and was admired and emulated internationally, featuring in national and international books, reports and articles. For 12 and a half years between 1997 and 2009 the Practice operated in Peckham, an area of high social deprivation in South London. The seven Albany midwives looked after all women referred to them, whether or not they had straight forward or complex pregnancies and nearly all were looked after by the same one or two midwives during pregnancy, labour, birth and postnatally. The results from this new research are remarkable:
Albany statistics (1997-2009) compared with latest UK rates (ONS 2013-14)[i]
|Outcome measure||Albany Midwifery Practice
|UK overall (ONS 2013-14)|
|Induction of labour||6.5%||25%|
|Spontaneous vaginal birth||79.8%||60.9%|
|Preterm birth||5.1%||7-7.5% (ONS 2012)|
[i] Statistics used for comparison – UK figures over the period 1997-2009 would have varied slightly
Nearly 75% women were exclusively breastfeeding their babies four weeks after birth and the perinatal mortality rate was LOWER than in the rest of the UK over the same period.
These statistics are especially important because 57% of the women looked after by the Practice were from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities and a third of the women were single. These women and their babies have been frequently shown to have poorer outcomes when cared for within usual maternity services models. Astonishingly, the Practice was CLOSED in 2009 by King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust (KCHFT), leaving mothers without their midwives, and midwives bereft and barred from practice. There were several big demonstrations against the closure, led by the ‘Albany Mums’ and supported by key figures such as Sheila Kitzinger and Dame Julia Cumberlege, who called for an investigation into the whole of KCHFT maternity services. The longest practising midwife, Becky Reed, was initially suspended and then referred to the Nursing and Midwifery Council. After a distressing case which lasted over three years, she was completely exonerated, but the NMC has never apologised for its behaviour towards one of the UK’s most respected midwives.
The Association of Radical Midwives supports Becky Reed and the Albany Midwifery Practice midwives in their fight for justice. We call for an apology by King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust for its shameful treatment of the mothers and midwives concerned. We call for reform of the maternity services so that ALL women may receive this model of care which has been recommended by UK governments since 1993 and proven to improve outcomes for mothers and babies.
Author: Sarah Davies
ARM Contact: Sarah Davies firstname.lastname@example.org 07962237242
FULL REPORT AVAILABLE FROM http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0266613817301511
Association for Improvements in Maternity Services: http://www.aims.org.uk/Journal/Vol22No1/albanyModel.html Statistics used for comparison – UK figures over the period 1997-2009 would have varied slightly