Mind the Gap 2021 reveals gaps in training, and calls for investment in the maternity frontline

Baby Lifeline is pleased to announce the publication of Mind the Gap 2021: An Investigation into Maternity Training for Frontline Professionals Across the UK (2020/21).

Mind the Gap is an ongoing piece of research by Baby Lifeline which investigates training in the UK for maternity professionals working in the NHS. The project explores training relating to themes in the causes of death and life-changing injuries for mothers, birthing people and their babies. 

The third edition of the report – published today – focusses on training provided to maternity staff during the financial year 2020/21.

Baby Lifeline commends maternity organisations for providing training during the COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on maternity services in general, and it is remarkable that organisations across the country were able to provide as much training as they did under such challenging circumstances.

Researchers identified countless examples of innovative practices to help ensure that as much high-quality training as possible could take place during the period, and for this the maternity workforce should be applauded.

Gaps in training have worsened
However, though the pressures of COVID-19 had a significant impact on maternity services, the report finds that gaps in training due to chronic underfunding, staff shortages and lack of resource worsened during the period surveyed. These gaps will not close unless change happens.

Baby Lifeline is calling for urgent action to support maternity units to provide training for staff in order to make every birth safer and better.

Training has decreased since 2017/18
The report concludes that there is very little standardisation in maternity training across the UK:

  • Overall training provision decreased during 2020/21 when compared with the last Mind the Gap report, which surveyed the period 2017/18
  • Training was less interactive; pre-recorded lectures and videos were used twice as often as in 2017/18
  • The average amount spent on training has nearly halved since 2017/18; the average spend in 2020/21 was around £34,000
  • Training related to the Saving Babies’ Lives Care Bundle, devised to reduce stillbirths and neonatal deaths, was provided by fewer than one quarter of organisations in the UK
  • Training in managing and preventing the leading causes of maternal deaths is lacking.

Proper investment in the maternity workforce is overdue

Expectations of maternity services have never been higher, and yet services are not being given the right infrastructure to support the work. Innovation and proper investment in the maternity workforce have never been more urgent as we face another winter with the threat of continually high COVID-19 infection rates, staff sickness, and increased demands.


This deficit should not be paid by families

Investigations and maternity reports detail the same causes of avoidable harm, and it is an overdue courtesy to those who have suffered to learn lessons quickly and effectively. This cannot be done without proper investment in resources for training, as well as a sufficient workforce.

Tell us what you think: #MindtheGap21


Baby Lifeline will be hosting a free webinar today at 6pm to discuss the report and its findings – all are welcome, please register here.

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