Baby Lifeline will continue to campaign for improvements to maternity safety

A Blog by 
James Titcombe, Patient Safety and Policy Consultant
Sara Ledger, Head of Research and Development


As we move towards the end of a hard year, maternity safety continues to be in the spotlight. This week the Care Quality Commission (CQC) published another report highlighting concerns with maternity services, this time at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust. This comes after a string of maternity services have been told they needed to improve.

Two years ago, Baby Lifeline published Mind the Gap which found gaps in important maternity training and cited the main barriers as being funding and staffing. Whilst staffing is a longer-term goal, ensuring staff can access to important training can happen now and will impact maternity safety, and yet it is still not being prioritised

The CQC report about maternity care at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust highlights the need for training in key areas:

  • best practice in line with national guidance and,
  • recognising women who are at risk of deterioration.

In addition, it stated that the service did not always have enough midwifery staff with the right qualifications, skills, training and experience to keep women safe from avoidable harm and to provide the right care and treatment.

With the recent Spending Review not allocating a pot of money for a second and/or sustained Maternity Safety Training Fund, Baby Lifeline will continue to campaign for this funding which will improve care for mothers and babies and support the NHS frontline in maternity care.

Earlier this year, Baby Lifeline presented a letter to the Prime Minister asking for funding for training, which was supported by key representatives from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal College of Midwives, and former Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt (to name a few). We are, therefore, disappointed for it not to have been considered. 


An Opportunity for Maternity Safety

Meanwhile, we look to the awaited first publication of the Ockenden Review next week, which will investigate the first set of 1,800 tragic maternity cases at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust.

Its publication will be an important moment for families who have campaigned for an inquiry, in some cases for many years, hopefully giving them answers as to what happened and why. The report will also be important for maternity services as a whole – allowing and prompting a system-wide moment of reflection.

Another important opportunity is the Health and Social Care Committee Inquiry into the safety of maternity services, which was launched a few months ago. The aim of the inquiry is to ‘…examine evidence relating to ongoing concerns despite the substantial amount of work carried out in recent years’.

We hope that the inquiry is a chance to give a platform to mothers, fathers and family members impacted by avoidable harm, and also to demonstrate that maternity needs more support to be able to make the necessary changes and improve maternity safety.

Baby Lifeline’s submission to the government inquiry is available here.  


What next?

There is incredible work taking place across maternity services, and professionals who are working hard to make pregnancy and birth the safest and best it can possibly be in the UK. Sadly, we hear too often that change cannot happen due to lack of funding. These investigations, like the many before it, are an opportunity to give maternity more support in implementing changes necessary to save lives – we cannot let these opportunities pass us by again.

Baby Lifeline will continue to research and provide training to the frontline where gaps exist, to improve care and give all mothers and babies the best outcome possible.

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