Changes in access to antenatal services

We explore the number of women being assessed by maternity services during their pregnancy.


Last updated: 29/11/2017

Access and waiting times
Hospital care

All pregnant women should be encouraged to access maternity services for a full assessment of their health and social care needs, risks and choices within the first 12 weeks of their pregnancy. This is to give them the full benefit of personalised maternity care and improve outcomes and experience for mother and baby.

How have rates of timely antenatal assessments changed? 15/11/2017

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The proportion of women who had an antenatal assessment by 12 weeks and six days of pregnancy has generally increased over time, from 87% in 2009/10 Q3 to 102% in 2016/17 Q2. For details on how the proportion can be higher than 100%, please see 'about this data' at the bottom of this page.

How has the number of timely antenatal assessments changed? 15/11/2017

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The total number of maternities was broadly steady (despite seasonal fluctuations) between 2010/11 Q1 and 2012/13 Q3, with an average of 166,000 maternities per quarter. However, after 2012/13 Q3 the total number of maternities decreased significantly and since then there has been an average of 157,000 maternities per quarter - a decrease of around 9,000 maternities. Generally, the number of antenatal assessments happening before 12 weeks and six days of pregnancy was similar across these two time periods, with an average number of 152,000 assessments in both. This suggests that the increase in performance in the proportion of maternities receiving timely antenatal assessments may be in part due to the decrease in number of maternities over time.

About this data

Since April 2013, data has been provided by NHS England in their 'Maternity and Breastfeeding' dataset. The number of pregnant women having an antenatal assessment is taken from provider data and the number of maternities comes from Office for National Statistics data on live births.

The indicator compares bookings for mothers having antenatal assessments with the number of maternities at the point of delivery two quarters later. If a woman is assessed in Quarter 1, she is recorded as giving birth in Quarter 3, so the number of antenatal assessments in 2010/11 Quarter 1 would relate to the number of maternities in 2010/11 Quarter 3. Results correspond to the quarter the antenatal appointment occurred in, not when the maternity was recorded.

Note that percentages can be greater than 100% if women who are assessed suffer a miscarriage or undergo a termination, causing them to be captured in the numerator but not the denominator. Another reason is that some women undergo antenatal assessments at more than one hospital. As a result they may be double counted, leading to a higher ratio of assessments to deliveries.