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Nearly half of NHS maternity services in England are unsafe

Posted on 12th April 2022 in Medical Negligence

Posted by

Endurance Arthur

Partner and Solicitor
Nearly half of NHS maternity services in England are unsafe

The lives of babies are at risk because maternity units are still unsafe, years after families raised concerns about preventable deaths resulting from poor care. 80 of the NHS’s 193 maternity services are rated as inadequate or requires improvement, this means they are not meeting basic safety standards.

Eight hospitals have been given the lowest rating of inadequate by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). This included Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation and the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, while only two have been rated outstanding by the CQC.

A report last year showed Morecombe Bay had made failures in maternity care, for example, a woman who was at risk of sepsis had not been given antibiotics in time and there is a lack in midwives to “keep women safe from avoidable harm”.

A public enquiry has been called for by families into maternity care in Nottingham, where dozens of babies have died or have suffered brain damage. A review by the NHS has been ordered but families are frustrated by its slow progress. On Wednesday 100 mothers wrote to the health secretary Sajid Javid to demand that Donna Ockenden should lead a review of Nottingham’s maternity care inquiry. She led the inquiry into the biggest maternity scandal in NHS history at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust. Her report said 201 babies and nine mothers had died avoidably because of “repeated failures over two decades”.

Victoria Vallance, from the CQC, said: “Maternity services at the trusts Nottingham City Hospital and Queens Medical Centre are currently rated inadequate and we have taken enforcement action requiring them to take action to make improvements.”


Medical negligence specialist Endurance Arthur comments:

We were so hopeful of real improvements in NHS maternity services after the recommendations from the Morecambe Bay Report in 2015 and the RCOG’s Each Baby Counts initiative in 2018.  It is depressing to read now that almost half of England’s maternity services are unsafe. We know that behind each failing is a devastated family who know they have suffered a loss because they were let down. It really is time for lessons from the past enquiries to be learnt if we are to are to avoid more of these appalling birth injuries and their catastrophic consequences.


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