Six-week post-natal checks continued throughout COVID-19 pandemic, says RCGP

Responding to a recent survey by the NCT on post-natal care during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Victoria Tzortziou Brown, Joint Honorary Secretary of the Royal College of GPs, said the following.

“Maternal postnatal checks are important opportunities for women to discuss any physical and mental health concerns that they may have, as well as to ensure their baby is healthy and thriving. GPs and our teams have been working incredibly hard throughout the pandemic to deliver the care and services our patients rely on us for – including maternal post-natal checks - in as safe a way as possible. It’s encouraging that a similar number of new mothers are being offered, and are coming forward for, their six-week post-natal check as before the pandemic.

“Adjusting to life with a new baby can be challenging at the best of times, but even more so during the pandemic, when parents might not have access to the family networks and support, they would have normally. The mental, as well as the physical health of both mother and baby are both equally important.

“Having conversations about physical and mental health can be daunting for some patients, but general practice is a confidential and non-judgemental space in which new mothers can discuss their concerns openly and without fear of stigma, and receive the advice and care they need. The College has also produced relevant guidance for GPs on Postnatal Maternal and Infant Care during the pandemic, to help support GPs continue to deliver important post-natal services throughout the pandemic.

“It is important that we understand better the reasons for which patients may not always come forward with their mental health concerns. GP teams have worked hard to adapt quickly to the many difficult challenges presented by COVID. Practices have been trying to accommodate patients receiving their COVID vaccines, administering the flu vaccine, and looking after patients needing GP care, all at the same time and in a safe and socially distanced way. This has created unprecedented demand and time pressures in many practices. There may also be patients who have decided not to access the NHS during the pandemic for fear of getting COVID or because they haven’t wanted to add to the increased demand for health services during the crisis. Any such barriers will need to be better understood and mitigated so that access to care is improved for those in need and health inequalities are addressed.”

Further information

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RCGP Press office – 020 3188 7633/7494/7574
Out of hours: 020 3188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.