Report Highlights Concerns over Maternity Care Services

Author:
Jodie Cook
Senior Associate, Medical Negligence Lawyer
Date:
07/07/2021

The Health and Social Care Committee have published a report today on the safety of maternity services in England, which outlines concerns about the inconsistencies within maternity care across the country.

Despite efforts to improve the safety of maternity services, the report reveals that the variation in maternity care means that worryingly, not every mother can expect “the safe delivery of a healthy baby”.

This report highlights these inconsistencies across maternity care so that the NHS can learn lessons from them and improve outcomes for mothers and their babies.

Our Medical Negligence Solicitors often help mothers and their babies who haven’t experienced a reasonable level of maternity care, and this report, highlighting the issues, is crucial in making sure that women and their children are given the care they expect when giving birth.

Report Findings

Staffing and Underfunding

The report highlights that the NHS are one of the safest healthcare services for maternal care in the world, but issues still remain with staffing and underfunding.

8 out of 10 midwives thought there weren’t enough staff on shifts to make sure the safest maternal care could be given and they also said that doctors had gaps in their rotas.

It also highlighted that insufficient staffing is impacting on the ability to have vital training, which is essential for patient safety.

Post-Incident Care

Concerns were raised that families don’t get compassionate, proper support after patient safety incidents.

Most NHS maternity services are delivered without incident but when a family is affected, they found that aftercare wasn’t caring or compassionate and often carried on a culture of blame.

And while the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) give staff an opportunity to feel listened to, staff often found that HSIB investigations weren’t quick enough. Delays to these investigations means that trusts don’t get the opportunity to conduct internal investigations, learn from mistakes or keep a positive relationship with families.

Impersonal Care

The report also looks at what women want and need from maternity care by speaking to mothers who had lost babies and found that personal care must go hand in hand with safety.

Inequalities within Maternal Care

For years, the disparities within maternal care in Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups has been well documented, but there’s been no effort made to close the gap of these inequalities within the healthcare system and the NHS have no set targets to do this.

What Happens Next?

The Health and Social Care Committee say that to make sure maternity care is safer in England following the report:

  1. The Government need to urgently fund the maternity workforce to make sure there are enough staff to deliver safe care to all mothers and babies
  1. There should be a review in the way in which the HSIB works with Trusts to support local learning and development. Staff at all levels ought to be involved in the HSIB investigations
  1. NHS England should make sure every mother is fully informed of the risks of all birthing options and pain relief options that are available to them during labour
  1. The Government should introduce a target with clear timeframes to reduce the inequality gap in maternal care

We have seen too many of these reports over the years with very little evidence that lessons have been learnt. So we must all demand that both the Government and NHS England take the findings of this report on board and take urgent steps to make sure that maternity services are safer for all mothers and children.

People We’ve Helped

We’ve helped many people who’ve suffered from medical negligence during or after giving birth. Here are just a few of them:

We sincerely hope that the NHS will quickly work towards completely eradicating maternity negligence and birth injuries so that all mothers and babies can give birth safely.

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