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Bridging Between Professionals in Perinatal Care: Towards Shared Care in The Netherlands


Relatively high perinatal mortality rates in the Netherlands have required a critical assessment of the national obstetric system. Policy evaluations emphasized the need for organizational improvement, in particular closer collaboration between community midwives and obstetric caregivers in hospitals. The leveled care system that is currently in place, in which professionals in midwifery and obstetrics work autonomously, does not fully meet the needs of pregnant women, especially women with an accumulation of non-medical risk factors. This article provides an overview of the advantages of greater interdisciplinary collaboration and the current policy developments in obstetric care in the Netherlands. In line with these developments we present a model for shared care embedded in local ‘obstetric collaborations’. These collaborations are formed by obstetric caregivers of a single hospital and all surrounding community midwives. Through a broad literature search, practical elements from shared care approaches in other fields of medicine that would suit the Dutch obstetric system were selected. These elements, focusing on continuity of care, patient centeredness and interprofessional teamwork form a comprehensive model for a shared care approach. By means of this overview paper and the presented model, we add direction to the current policy debate on the development of obstetrics in the Netherlands. This model will be used as a starting point for the pilot-implementation of a shared care approach in the ‘obstetric collaborations’, using feedback from the field to further improve it.

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Correspondence to A. G. Posthumus.

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Posthumus, A.G., Schölmerich, V.L.N., Waelput, A.J.M. et al. Bridging Between Professionals in Perinatal Care: Towards Shared Care in The Netherlands. Matern Child Health J 17, 1981–1989 (2013).

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  • Shared care
  • Integrated care
  • Joint care
  • Combined care
  • Collaborative care
  • Innovation
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal healthcare
  • Care pathways
  • Collaboration