Three quarters of NHS maternity services in need of improvement
The Department of Health has published ratings of all NHS maternity services in England and Wales, with almost three quarters (155 out of 209) being rated as at least requiring improvement.
Measuring mortality and stillbirth rates, women’s experiences and the choices available to them, the figures are part of the safer maternity care action plan. The UK is also in the bottom third of a global league table of 164 countries for progress on reduction of stillbirths.
The intention is that the figures will improve transparency, raise standards and give families better information about the quality of local maternity services. However, while any increase in transparency is to be welcomed, for most people they will just provide a depressing insight into the quality that they can expect from their local maternity services.
It is to be hoped that the stark conclusions of the ratings will lead to a push to improve maternity services across the country, and the Department of Health has already promised an £8 million fund for maternity safety training. Again, this is welcomed but it is clear that much more needs to be done. It is also important to ensure that any improvements aren’t focussed solely on those areas assessed in the report.
We at Coffin Mew deal regularly with families with children who have suffered damage because of poor care during labour. Each one of these cases is a tragedy that can have lifelong repercussions for all of the family involved, turning what should be one of the happiest times of their lives into one of the most worrying.