Enhanced Maternal Care Units: Guidance on Development and Implementation

28 Sep 2023

This guidance should be read by all healthcare professionals caring for pregnant or recently pregnant women in a hospital setting.

It considers the clinical needs of sick, pregnant, or recently pregnant women cared for in a non-critical care environment. It is not intended to describe the service or care standards for patients who require critical care (level 2 or 3 care).

Level 1 Care or Enhanced Care is now well embedded in hospitals across the UK and is further underpinned by our updated Levels of Care guidance published in 2021 which refined previous standards and incorporates enhanced care to reflect the modern delivery of adult critical care.

Women who are pregnant or recently pregnant can become unwell suddenly with catastrophic consequences for mothers, babies and their families if deterioration isn’t recognised and acted upon quickly.

Debbie Horner

Lead Author

The aim of this document is to build on existing Enhanced Maternal Care guidance [2018] and provide more specific guidance on how to establish EMC, including practical advice on:

  • The development of the EMC team
  • Who should be involved
  • How the team should be developed including training, governance, quality improvement and data collection.

It is increasingly recognised that a ‘one size fits all’ model of EMC presents a significant challenge to smaller units who are likely to care for fewer sick women. The guidance gives specific examples of how EMC can be provided successfully in units of all sizes working collaboratively with critical care services.

We started this important piece of work during the pandemic, and I am delighted to see it being published today. I am confident that this expert guidance will contribute to improving the safety of women before, during and after childbirth.

Dr Stephen Webb

Immediate Past President, Intensive Care Society

The Society has worked with several like-minded organisations such as the British Thoracic Society (BTS) and the Society for Acute Medicine (SAM) to promote the development of best practice guidelines to support specialty-specific Enhanced Care Units, including Respiratory Support Units, Ventilatory Weaning Units and Acute Medical Enhanced Care Units.

Endorsing Organisations

  • British Maternal and Fetal Medicine Society
  • UK Critical Care Nursing Alliance:
    • Royal College of Nursing
    • British Association of Critical Care Nurses
    • Intensive Care Society
    • Critical Care National Network Nurse Lead Forum • Intensive Care Society
    • National Outreach Forum
    • Paediatric Critical Care Society

Supporting Organisations

  • Joint Committee for Obstetric Medicine:
    • MacDonald Obstetric Medicine Society
    • Royal College of Physicians
  • Obstetric Anaesthetists Association
  • Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Royal College of Midwives
  • Royal College of Anaesthetists