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Maternity wards still not improved despite a series of recent scandals

Posted on 21st September 2021 in Medical Negligence

Posted by

Simon Mansfield

Partner and Solicitor
Maternity wards still not improved despite a series of recent  scandals

In a highly critical report published on Monday and reported in the Guardian today, the Care Qualify Commission has voiced concern that mothers’ and babies are being put at risk of injury and death because too many maternity units have not improved despite a series of recent childbirth scandals affecting the NHS at trusts such as Morecambe Bay, East Kent and Shrewsbury and Telford

Whilst the report identifies that a greater national focus on maternity care in recent years has led to some improvement it identifies that the “pace of progress has been too slow” and that action to ensure women have access to safe, effective and truly personalised maternity care has “not been sufficiently prioritised to mitigate risk and prevent future tragedies from occurring”.

Partner and Solicitor, Simon Mansfield, from our Medical Negligence team commented:

As Ted Baker, the CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals states, when commenting on the report, the death or injury of any new baby or mother and something that everyone working in the healthcare system has a duty to do all they can to prevent.

In this context, it is essential therefore that, where things do go wrong, an open and honest investigation takes place to ensure that everything that can be is done to prevent the same problems occurring again and again. Whilst I believe that everyone would accept that some mistakes will always be made, some problems arising from poor training, understanding, and working relationships for example are avoidable and lead to unnecessary harm when measures to prevent them are not put in place.

Whilst I see some investigations where staff and those assessing the care provided have been commendably open to identifying failings this is not always the case meaning that opportunities for learning are missed.   

There has been an improvement since 2018 when the CQC disclosed that it had rated 50% of maternity units as either “requires improvement or “inadequate” but the number of units rated either “requires improvement or “inadequate” remains a 39% which shows that there is still some way to go.  It is also of concern that the latest figures for July 2021 show a small increase in the number of services with these ratings.

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