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National Maternity Review Aims to Deliver More Personalised Maternity Care

Maternity services in England will become safer, more personalised, kinder, professional and more family friendly, according to the vision outlined in the National Maternity Review.

The National Maternity Review, which was published today, hopes to ensure that every woman has access to information to enable her to access the support she needs and make informed decisions about her care.

The NHS England commissioned review, which was led by Baroness Julia Cumberlege, sets out a series of recommendations for how maternity services can improve over the next five years so that more women can give birth at home or in community settings such as midwife-led units.

According to the report, the quality of maternity services has improved significantly over the last 10 years with the stillbirth and neonatal mortality rates having fallen by more than 20 per cent from 2003 to 2013.

However, the findings also revealed huge discrepancies across the country with 38 per cent of maternity services rated inadequate or requiring improvement by the Care Quality Commission.

Failure to adequately care for expectant mothers is contributing to the needless deaths of more than 700 babies every year. In some areas of England, four babies out of every 1,000 are stillborn or die within the first week after birth, while in other areas this number rises to 10. In half of all stillbirths, there are elements of care that if improved could have made a difference. The Lancet’s Ending Preventable Stillbirths Series ranked Britain a woeful 21st out of 35 of the world’s wealthiest developed nations for stillbirth rates.

To make maternity care more personal and family friendly, the report highlights a number of key areas to drive improvement and ensure women and their babies receive the same standard of excellent care wherever they live. They include:

  • Personalised care, to ensure every woman has a care plan in place with their midwife allowing them to be told their options so they can make their own decisions based around their own health needs.
  • Continuity of carer, to ensure every woman has the same community-based midwife looking after them throughout their pregnancy, birth and postnatally.
  • Better postnatal mental health care, to address the need to provide greater support for women suffering from mental health issues following the birth of their babies.
  • Multi-professional working, to help dissolve barriers between midwives and obstetricians and address the need for collaborative training between health professionals so that they understand and respect each other’s skills.

Baroness Julia Cumberlege said: “To be among the best in the world, we need to put women, babies and their families at the centre of their care.

“Women have told us they want to be given genuine choices and have the same person looking after them throughout their care. We must ensure that all care is as safe as the best and we need to break down boundaries and work together to reduce the variation in the quality of services and provide a good experience for all women.”

The aim of this review was to modernise maternity services for mothers and their babies by looking at current maternity care provision and analysing how services could be improved.

Although the majority of women find the maternity care they receive both during and after childbirth is of a generally high standard, this is an opportunity for the NHS to raise safety standards and do more towards the prevention of obstetric injuries to mothers as well as birth injuries to babies.

It is vital that everything is done to support and enable expectant mothers to make the appropriate choices regarding their maternity care by providing them with as much information as they need wherever they live in the country.

Lauren Tully is a clinical negligence solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Manchester.

The clinical negligence solicitors at Slater and Gordon help families who have had to deal with devastating birth injuries in a sensitive and supportive manner. We understand the complex legal and medical issues involved, and the importance of supporting you through this most difficult time.

If your baby was injured during pregnancy or child birth due to medical negligence call us for a free consultation any time of day on 0800 916 9049 or contact us online. We can provide immediate representation anywhere in the UK.

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