Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock announced the plans on 30 December saying that he wants to make the NHS “the best place in the world to give birth”.

The proposals include digitising babies’ health records (known as the red book), greater continuity of carer to provide pregnant mothers with one midwife from pregnancy through to early months of parenthood, more postnatal physiotherapy available for mothers who suffer incontinence after birth and improved support and accommodation for critically ill new born babies.

The maternity proposals are part of the government’s 10-year plan for the NHS which it is expected to publish later this month. The plans are included in the government's commitment to increase funding of the NHS by £20.5 billion by 2023/4

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) welcomed the announcement but warned that the implementation of continuity of carer could not be done “on a shoestring” and urged the government to commit to ringfenced funding for the initiative. The RCM also highlighted the importance of improving retention rates for midwives.

Suzanne White, head of the clinical negligence team at Leigh Day, said:

“We welcome these plans for greater investment in maternity services. It is clear that maternity units have been under a great deal of strain in recent years and this has had an impact on the care given to mothers and babies. We look forward to the plans being implemented.”