An exploration of changes to the provision of postnatal care during Covid-19
Prior to the pandemic, over many years, experts have highlighted gaps and concerns about postnatal care provision in the NHS, and its impact on long term health and wellbeing, and health inequalities. Covid-19 infection control measures have resulted in significant changes to the way postnatal care is delivered in the NHS, and in the wider support for women and babies in the community. This includes fewer face-to-face contacts with health professionals, and closing of support groups. There is a risk that changes in care introduced during the pandemic may reduce the quality or quantity of care, and fail to detect and treat problems, and it is also possible that some of the changes to care will be continued post-pandemic without evidence of effect. Whilst research has been undertaken in other areas of maternity care during this period, we are not aware of any specific work which focuses on postnatal care and outcomes in depth.
The Maternity Theme of the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Academic Research Collaborative (ARC) West Midlands at the University of Birmingham, plans to undertake a programme of work focused on the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on postnatal care in the UK. This includes:
• A multisite retrospective cohort study using routine national data to explore potentially avoidable maternal and neonatal postnatal readmissions during the Covid-19 pandemic
• A multisite retrospective cohort study of maternal and neonatal outcomes using routine data from selected maternity units in the West Midlands using the BadgerNet electronic patient record (EPR)
• Postnatal care during Covid-19: a qualitative study to explore NHS Staff and women’s perspectives of the changes that have occurred in postnatal community care