Baby Lifeline welcomes new steps to improve maternity safety

Baby Lifeline welcomes the rapid and positive response to the Ockenden Review recommendations announced today. The Department of Health and Social Care has announced three big steps in improving maternity safety:

  • Training for maternity service leaders
  • A core curriculum for NHS frontline professionals
  • A new network of service user advocates

Training for Maternity Service Leaders

£500,000 will see the rollout of training for leaders in maternity services in key areas of concern highlighted by the Ockenden Review and many investigation reports before it.

As one of the leading providers of maternity safety training, we have seen the positive impact that training has on care for mothers and babies. We are glad to see a focus on the importance of training, as it is a repeated recommendation from reports looking at avoidable harm.

The training programme will look to build skills in areas like:

  • Engaging appropriately and effectively with families
  • Learning from error and excellence
  • Assessing and anticipating risk, and supporting necessary improvements
  • Developing quality improvement and safety strategies

A Core Curriculum for NHS Frontline Professionals

NHS England is also working on a core curriculum for all frontline professionals working in maternity. This is one of the main recommendations from Baby Lifeline’s Mind the Gap research, which looks at training being provided across all NHS maternity services.

There are serious gaps in what is being provided as a standard for frontline NHS professionals; for example, training in the leading cause of death for mothers – heart disease – was found to only be provided in one-third of NHS trusts and health boards. Training in the last Saving Babies’ Lives Care Bundle was being provided in fewer than 8% of services. Giving trusts a steer on what to prioritise will enable effective national learning and improve maternity safety.

Mind the Gap also highlighted the need for funding and time to be protected to enable the frontline to access high-quality training in areas shown to relate to avoidable deaths and injuries in maternity. The biggest barriers to providing and attending training were lack of funding and staff shortages.

A national curriculum of training will not be successful without addressing these barriers. 

Baby Lifeline delivered a letter to Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, highlighting this need last year; signatories included Donna Ockenden, senior Royal College representatives, former of Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, and maternity charities.

 

A New Network of Service User Advocates

Today’s announcement also confirms that NHS England is developing a new network of advocates which will ensure the ‘voices’ of mothers and families are heard in maternity services. This work addresses one of the Ockenden reports key recommendations, and if implemented well, Baby Lifeline believes that this work could play an important role in supporting safer maternity care.

 

Judy Ledger, CEO and Founder of Baby Lifeline, says:

“Baby Lifeline welcomes the positive step in addressing the Ockenden Review’s recommendations. The recommendations were not new to those in maternity, and it’s vital that we get this right nationally, to improve care for all mothers and babies.

We must now ensure that every professional working in maternity is given high-quality training in areas shown to cause harm. Safety training will enable any midwife or doctor to identify a woman or baby who might be at-risk, and appropriately manage their care.

We are committed to helping the Department of Health and Social Care, as well as NHS England, in any way we can to achieve this goal.”  

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