A report examined the accessibility of primary care (family doctors) for women in the United Kingdom. It considered the barriers to access, including key issues for women from a range of minority groups. It made recommendations for improvements in various areas, including: the appointments system; registration (particularly with regard to personal identification); effective use of the appointment, including the right to see a female doctor, allowing sufficient time for sensitive issues, and making the process more accessible through providing assistance such as translation and advocacy; addressing prejudice and discrimination; engagement with issues related to gender-based violence; and awareness of, and services for, mental health.
Source: Annah Psarros, Women's Voices On Health: Addressing barriers to accessing primary care, Maternity Action/Women's Health and Equality Consortium
An article examined the major factors affecting health during pregnancy, birth, and the postnatal period, and evidence for interventions to improve outcomes in women and their children. It said that potential interventions that were supported by evidence included diet and the avoidance of smoking, alcohol, and illicit drugs, but good management of underlying illness and the improvement of health prior to conception and postnatally were also important. It noted the implications for policy approaches.
Source: Ron Fraser Gray, Debra Bick, and Yan-Shing Chang, 'Health in pregnancy and post-birth: contribution to improved child outcomes', Journal of Children's Services, Volume 9 Number 2
An article examined the findings from a research project that examined the operation of Alongside Midwifery Units (AMUs) in England. AMUs provided midwife-led care to low-risk women, adjacent to maternity units run by obstetricians, aiming to provide a homely environment to support normal childbirth. The project examined how AMUs were organized, staffed and managed, the experiences of women receiving maternity care in an AMU, and the views and experiences of maternity staff.
Source: Christine McCourt, Juliet Rayment, Susanna Rance, and Jane Sandall, 'An ethnographic organisational study of alongside midwifery units: a follow-on study from the Birthplace in England programme', Health Services and Delivery Research, Volume 2 Issue 7
The European Court of Justice ruled that European Union law did not require that a mother who had had a baby through a surrogacy agreement should be entitled to maternity leave or its equivalent. It said that the Employment Equality Framework Directive did not apply, since the inability to maintain a pregnancy was not considered a disability. The court also said that the Pregnant Workers Directive only laid down certain minimum requirements, but member states were free to apply more favourable rules for the benefit of such mothers.
Source: C-167/12 C.D. v S.T. and C-363/12 Z. v A Government Department and the Board of Management of a Community School, European Court of Justice
The government began consultation on proposals to introduce regulations in the United Kingdom to permit the use of new fertility techniques to implant eggs or embryos from a donor to prevent serious mitochondrial disease being passed from a mother to her children. The consultation would close on 21 May 2014.
Source: Mitochondrial Donation: A consultation on draft regulations to permit the use of new treatment techniques to prevent the transmission of a serious mitochondrial disease from mother to child, Department of Health
An article examined abortion rights in Northern Ireland. It explored the interconnectedness of civil, political, and social rights; and the implications of an inability to vindicate any aspect of those rights.
Source: Goretti Horgan and Julia O'Connor, 'Abortion and citizenship rights in a devolved region of the UK', Social Policy and Society, Volume 13 Issue 1
A report by a committee of MPs said that while the majority of women had good outcomes from National Health Service maternity services in England, performance and outcomes could be much better. It had found that the rate of stillbirths and babies dying within seven days of birth was higher in England than in the other United Kingdom nations, the quality of care varied between trusts, and there were persistent inequalities in the experiences of different groups of women. The report made a number of recommendations.
Source: Maternity Services in England, Fortieth Report (Session 201314), HC 776, House of Commons Public Accounts Select Committee, TSO
A new book examined the lived reality of donor conception in families, based on in-depth interviews with parents and grandparents of donor-conceived children. It said that the greater accessibility of reproductive medical technologies was raising new and important questions about family life.
Source: Petra Nordqvist and Carol Smart, Relative Strangers: Family life, genes and donor conception, Palgrave Macmillan