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Updated guidance on dispersal of pregnant women

The new Home Office guidance on dispersal of pregnant women has been published. After much campaigning and research the Home Office agreed to revise their guidance back in spring 2013. This has now been published; highlighting the importance of minimising stress to women during pregnancy and says that women should not be dispersed away from areas where they are receiving maternity care and have family support. When women are dispersed, they should not be moved before the views of the treating clinician have been obtained.

Below are a few extracts from the guidance notes, however the full version can be found by clicking on the link below:

Home Office guidance on dispersal of pregnant women


Basic principles:

  • Every effort should be made to protect the health of pregnant women, new mothers and their babies.
  • Each case should be sympathetically considered on its own merits and solutions sought in consultation with the woman.
  • Caseworkers who are responsible for dispersing pregnant women should seek to minimise stress to the woman during her pregnancy.
  • Caseworkers should try to avoid dispersing women away from the area in which they are living and receiving maternity care, and in which they can access social and family support.
  • Wherever possible women will be accommodated as close to the maternity unit where they are currently accessing care, as well as existing sources of family and social support.

If dispersal is unavoidable:

  • When dispersing a pregnant woman who is already registered with maternity services, caseworkers should try to ensure that she is able to continue to live in her usual residential area. This would enable her to maintain access to her current maternity service and any other health and support services she may need access to, as well as maintaining any social support networks she has.
  • Where there is no previous link to maternity services, women should be dispersed from IA as soon as possible and settled into accommodation where they will be able to access services throughout their pregnancy and into new motherhood, so that they can establish health and community links in the dispersal area and avoid disruption around delivery.
  • Pregnant women should only be dispersed once whilst they are pregnant, unless they specifically request relocation.
  • Before dispersal, there should be a notice period of at least 10 days for women in the late stages of pregnancy, and the IA healthcare team should be notified (of both date and dispersal location. “…caseworkers should liaise closely with the IA Healthcare Team to ensure that all issues relating to the set up and/or effective handover of care, including any referrals to maternity services at the dispersal destination are completed before the dispersal takes place.”
  • Full use should be made of the dispersal notice period to ensure that where dispersal requires any travel, it should not take place before the views of a midwife or treating clinician on the following issues have been obtained:

– The woman’s fitness to travel

– An travel constraints

– Any arrival issues, including any arrangements that have been made, or need to be made, and with      whom, to ensure effective handover of care

Accommodation considerations:

  • · Consideration may need to be given in both dispersal and IA to the number of flights of stairs women who have recently given birth need to negotiate in the short-term.
  • · Any dispersal accommodation must be suitable to the woman’s needs both before and after birth and available throughout that period.