The recent reports of ‘dangerous’ working conditions and staffing levels for NHS midwives is disconcerting, both for NHS staff and expectant mothers.
A study for the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) of more than 2,700 midwives revealed some were looking after up to 15 mothers and babies at the same time and working 12-hour shifts without a break.
Former NHS employees’ reasons for leaving included 52 per cent being unhappy with staffing levels, 48 per cent unsatisfied with the quality of care they were able to give, and 39 per cent unhappy with their workload.
Midwives also reported not being listened to when raising concerns for the safety of mothers and babies and feared making “tragic” mistakes. Read more on the report here.
This report reflects concerns about current midwifery practice which affect a number of Slater and Gordon’s clients. We know from our clients’ experiences that inadequate midwifery staffing levels, compromised by poor support from managers repeatedly lead to unacceptable compromises in maternity care and, in the worst cases, stillbirth, neonatal death and profound disability for survivors. It is critical that the NHS listens to the RCM’s concerns in order to improve patient outcomes.
The above report follows the announcement of a government plan, published on 17 October, 2016 outlining new measures to make giving birth safer, including maternity safety funding and publishing maternity ratings. This new plan includes resources for NHS trusts in England to improve their approach to maternity safety, including £8 million for multi-disciplinary training.
The plans will also include a £250,000 maternity safety innovation fund to help create and pilot new ideas for improving maternity care, along with a new national Maternal and Neonatal Health Quality Improvement Programme. It will also provide a consultation to develop a ‘safe space’ to allow clinicians to speak openly about things that go wrong without fear that information they disclose may be used against them in court or professional misconduct hearings.
The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch will be in action from April 2017.
Further to this, a consultation on new rapid resolution and redress (RRR) scheme hopes to investigate and learn lessons from incidents of birth injuries and medical negligence.
The clinical negligence solicitors at Slater and Gordon specialise in claims against the NHS, GPs, private doctors and hospitals arising out of negligent medical treatment and acts on behalf of injured victims.
In many cases, we also achieve substantial interim payments for our clients to allow them to engage carers, secure therapies, aids and equipment and purchase accommodation.
Lindsay Holt is a principal lawyer specialising in clinical negligence and healthcare law at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Manchester.
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