Recommendation ID

A national evaluation of early pregnancy assessment unit service provision should be carried out to identify factors affecting outcomes. Factors should include whether care is provided in a dedicated unit, staffing configuration and opening hours of dedicated services. Outcomes should include both process (service) outcomes and pregnancy-related outcomes. Data collected should be used to analyse the cost effectiveness of early pregnancy assessment units compared with other models of care.

Any explanatory notes
(if applicable)

The first report of an early pregnancy assessment unit in England was published over 20 years ago, and prompted the rapid development of centres for the management of problems in early pregnancy. Today there are an estimated 150 early pregnancy assessment units in England and Wales (Association of Early Pregnancy Units, 2012). However, there is considerable variation between centres in access to services and levels of care provided. In addition, there has been very little good quality research on the effectiveness of early pregnancy assessment units in improving physical and emotional health compared with services provided outside of a dedicated unit.

A national audit of early pregnancy assessment services would help to make up for this lack of information. Such an audit should be along the lines of the National Caesarean Section Sentinel Audit, a cross-sectional national survey of service configuration and outcomes. Data recorded would include service location, opening hours and the healthcare professionals involved. Outcomes would include time of attendance, length of stay, admission rates, time to treatment and women's experience. Obtaining some of this information would involve early pregnancy services carrying out more formal follow‑up of women than they might do currently, for the duration of the audit. The evaluation should be structured to allow for comparisons between different models of care.

Comparative outcome data collected would be used to conduct an analysis of the cost effectiveness of early pregnancy assessment units compared with other models of care.

Source guidance details

Comes from guidance
Ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage: diagnosis and initial management
Date issued
April 2019

Other details

Is this a recommendation for the use of a technology only in the context of research? No  
Is it a recommendation that suggests collection of data or the establishment of a register?   No  
Last Reviewed 17/04/2019