A new study has called for GPs to play a bigger role in pregnancy care and work with midwives and consultants to provide a more coherent maternity service.
The report, by the think tank the King's Fund, suggested that doctors could play an important role in all the stages of pregnancy, especially for women who have special medical or social needs.
Women who are obese, who need to stop smoking while pregnant, or those who need genetic testing for hereditary diseases need to be dealt with by GPs, the report claimed.
Family doctors who have known the patient for a long time are in the best position to review the woman's health, as the report suggested that woman do not always share their medical history with midwives.
However, the report said that GPs do not feel they are paid enough to take on the responsibility to be involved in their patient's pregnancy, and no longer receive sufficient obstetric training.
Before 2004, GPs were paid around £100 for each pregnant woman they looked after, but in a new contract, money was no longer allocated per person, as it was then included in the GP's salary.
The report said that a coherent service must be adhered to, as confusion arises when women who self-refer themselves to a midwife, or still see their GP, may be at a loss as to who they should see if they have any problems.
Copyright © Press Association 2010
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"In 'special care' cases they already do at this practice but since the midwife has access to the same clinical system as the Drs and a good enough relationship to cross refer or even 'grab' a doctor between consultations – there is always a dr here to provide cover, I see no need to over-medicalise preganancy – it is after all for a large majority a tiring but not medically complicated time. We never turn away a pregnant woman who is having problems she will always be seen by someone the same day if humanly possible. I do wonder who was consulted about this, if anybody, as I do not think we are unique in our approach" – Name and address withheld