Medical Negligence

Improvements needed to maternity care according to new report

September 7, 2021
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Written by Trevor Ward, Partner & Birth Injury Team Leader

A new report into maternity services in England has found that urgent improvements are needed to ensure the safety of mothers and babies.

The report by the Health and Social Care Committee found that although maternity services in England are improving, improvements have been too slow and that there remained a “defensive culture, dysfunctional teams, and poor quality investigations without learning taking place.”

Staffing levels were identified as one area of concern; it was highlighted that staff shortages can not only impact care during birth, but can also have an effect on antenatal appointments with one Trainee Doctor commenting:

“A lot of problems start in the antenatal period. [In] our antenatal clinic we sometimes have 60 plus patients per antenatal clinic and you only have five or six minutes per patient to actually see them…”

In response to the report, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has released a statement. Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, Chief Executive and Registrar at the NMC, said:

“The impact of poor maternity care on women and their families can be devastating. But such dreadful experiences are not inevitable. As the Committee highlights, all of us working in maternity services need to focus on delivering positive and sustainable improvements necessary to deliver safe, kind and effective care every time.”

At Fletchers, we specialise in medical negligence cases and have supported many families who have received negligent maternity care. Welcoming a child should be an exciting and special time for families, but when mistakes are made, it can have devastating consequences.

Senior Medical Negligence Solicitor, Trevor Ward, commented:

“I entirely agree with the comments of the Trainee Doctor and Andrea Sutcliffe. The lack of resources for maternity services in the NHS has been a long-term issue. Obstetric and midwifery mistakes, whilst thankfully relatively rare, cost millions to the public purse. The answer is not to prevent or build hurdles for the unfortunate victims of mistakes to have to overcome, but to invest in the system to prevent or minimise those mistakes in the first place. I welcome the desire for continuing and speedy improvement.”

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