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Birth Injuries and Maternity Services – The National Maternity Review
In 2013 in some areas of England, 4 babies in every 1,000 are either stillborn or die in the first week following birth, but in other areas with more deprived populations or younger mothers this figure rises to 10 babies in every thousand. Although maternity services have improved greatly, Care Quality Commission inspections in 2015 rated 38% of maternity services either inadequate or requiring improvement.
Figures from NHS England show that over 124,000 safety incidents were reported by NHS hospital maternity units in 2015. The incidents included midwives failing to monitor the fetus’ heartbeat, doctors wrongly administering epidurals, or emergency caesarean sections being carried out too late. Clearly there is still some way to go towards safer maternity services.
The National Maternity Review, a major report following a review into the safety of maternity services led by Baroness Julia Cumberlege was published on 23 February. The review was commissioned after the deaths of 3 mothers and 16 babies following negligence at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS trust.
At the launch of the report, Baroness Cumberlege acknowledged that, “For the vast majority of women, giving birth and having a new member of the family is a really joyous occasion…but where things go wrong, it is devastating. It is a tragedy. It scars people for life.”
The report sets out wide-ranging proposals to make maternity care safer and to give women greater control and more choices. Women are to have personal maternity care budget to be spent on the NHS care they choose – whether they give birth in a midwife-run unit, a hospital or at home. Amongst other recommendations made is a call for obstetricians and midwives to train together to foster a better working relationship with greater understanding and respect for each other’s work.
The recommendations are welcome and we can only wait to see what if any improvements will result from them.
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