The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) have produced a joint statement on the important role of the GP in maternity care.
The Role of the General Practitioner in Maternity Care is part of a UK-wide bid to improve the care of pregnant women and new mothers.
The consensus statement acknowledges that GPs have an important role in maternity care and sets out a minimum of seven criteria that they should achieve to demonstrate their competence in this area, including:
Pre-conception care, especially for those with complex care needs
Health promotion in early pregnancy, including managing conditions such as bleeding
Recognising and signposting emergency conditions directly to hospital
Follow-up care for medical conditions such as diabetes and hypertension
Provision of postnatal and contraception advice.
Professor Amanda Howe, RCGP Honorary Secretary said: "Many GPs would like to have an enhanced role in maternity care and this makes sense because of the strong bond between the woman and her family doctor.
"We are reassured that our colleagues at the RCM and RCOG stand with us and share this view, as demonstrated by the publication of our joint statement.
"With the King's Fund discussion paper in 2010, we have support for GPs to have a role in maternity care, before, during and after pregnancy.
Cathy Warwick, RCM General Secretary, said: "High-quality, safe maternity services are dependent on all of the health professionals involved working together as a team and communicating well. I am delighted that the RCGP, RCOG and the RCM have come together to produce this important statement, which promotes collaborative working."
Dr Tony Falconer, RCOG President said, "We acknowledge the important role of family doctors in the provision of maternity services as they are the first point of contact for some women.
"With their knowledge of a woman's medical history, they are in a good position to advise on care, as described in the statement."
"I have felt strongly for years in my role as a community midwife and now as a manager that GPs and midwives work in partnership ensuring that women receive care in planning their pregnancies, early early antenatal period where the public health needs of the women need to be targeted to ensure there are safe outcomes for both mother and her baby and in the weeks following the birth. No one knows the women better than the GPs do and by working together with midwives, women will receive the care they all are entitled to get" - Vera Kelso, N.Ireland