Baby Lifeline welcomes £95 million funding announcement to improve maternity safety

Baby Lifeline welcomes £95 million funding announcement to improve maternity safety

Baby Lifeline strongly welcomes news today that maternity will receive a £95 million boost from the NHS to improve maternity safety. This is something Baby Lifeline has campaigned tirelessly for.

The new funding is targeted in three overarching areas, based on immediate and essential actions for all maternity units recommended by the Ockenden Review into poor care at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust. The areas include:

  • Training and development programmes to support culture and leadership.
  • Strengthening board assurance and surveillance to identify issues earlier, thereby enabling rapid intervention.
  • Workforce numbers.

Training and Development Programmes

As highlighted by many reports – not least the Ockenden Review – workforces should be training together in areas shown to impact on safety in maternity, and notably in areas relating to culture.

Baby Lifeline’s ‘Mind the Gap’ research identified that, even in emergency skills drills training, only a quarter of trusts were able to train teams together. A main barrier to this, and the general provision and attendance at important training, related to staffing and funding levels.

It is a positive step that there will investment in workforce capacity, allowing professionals to attend training together.


Board Oversight

Board support and awareness of performance is a vital component of improving safety for maternity units across the country. The introduction of the board assurance tool aims to enable a clear line of sight and accountability at trust, local, regional and national level.

The national governance structure will be strengthened to include surveillance, early rapid intervention and improvement support.

This will allow early oversight of trusts which need support and prevent any future “scandals”, where families lead the fight for answers and accountability.


Workforce numbers

Workforce numbers in maternity are a massive barrier to safe and personalised care, and so we are delighted that this is a priority in NHS England’s strategy to improve maternity nationally.

In our analysis, ‘Closing the Gap’, we noted a cyclical pattern of recruitment and attrition meaning that the increase in workforce numbers was minimal. We are optimistic about the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ workforce planning tool to assess obstetric staffing levels alongside BirthRate plus (BR+).

Targeted local increases in midwifery workforce will help reduce variation and improve the quality of care.


In additional, today’s announcement confirms funding to support the introduction of a new Independent Senior Advocate role in maternity services to ensure there is consistency across England. This will link to the development of patient safety champions to ensure there is collaboration and not duplication.


Commenting on today’s announcement – Judy Ledger said:

“Today’s announcement in very positive news for the future safe arrivals of every baby, and the safe care of every pregnant woman and birthing person. Baby Lifeline is delighted to see that maternity safety is being prioritised by the government.

As we saw from our ‘Mind the Gap’ research, funding and sufficient resources to ensure maternity services are able to release staff to attend training remains a significant barrier – we are delighted that this one of the areas earmarked for urgent investment.

Today’s announcement has come as a direct result of the interim Ockenden Review  published in December last year into tragic events at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH). Baby Lifeline would like to pay tribute to the families affected by events at SaTH whom we owe a debt of gratitude to for all their work to push for learning and change.”


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