NHS England maternity services may need overhaul to ensure safety, experts say

MMaternity wards may need to be reconfigured to ensure the highest standard of care, experts agreed at an exclusive virtual event hosted by The independent last night.

the NHS maternity scandal: inside a crisis A panel discussion laid out the facts that while the UK is one of the safest places in the world to give birth, it could still be safer.

Concerns about the safety of maternity services in the NHS have increased with repeated instances of poor care in recent years that have gone far beyond isolated cases.

the Quality of Care Commission said more than two-fifths of maternity hospitals need to improve safety as concerns over shortages of midwives and doctors mean services are increasingly in demand.

Efforts are being made to improve care with £ 96million invested in maternity services by NHS England this year, but only after a terrible roll call of tragedies that have left thousands of families grieving and injured.

These shortages were addressed during the event organized by The independents health correspondent Shaun Lintern, who has been covering the scandal for several years.

Watch the full event in the video below

The NHS maternity scandal: inside a crisis

The panel included Dr Eddie Morris, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and James Titcombe, patient safety activist and grieving father.

They were joined by Donna Ockenden, a senior midwife who led the investigation into maternity services at Shrewsbury and Telford hospitals. She is preparing her final report for publication later this year.

Ms Ockenden explained that one of the main issues at the heart of maternity services in the country is the fact that they are not treated like the A&E of women’s health.

She said: “I think one of the main issues with maternity services is that we are not treated the same as A&E.

“I think people don’t see that in fact motherhood is a woman’s A&E service, you can start a shift in any maternity hospital, you can plan what you think you’re doing. But in fact, you don’t know what’s going to happen through the front door.

Dr Morris supported this point of view and added: “I don’t think boards and CEOs necessarily listen to motherhood, this has always been the piece of medicine that as they like to say in management terms, consumes its own smoke, it works and does its job.

“But motherhood is a specialty of the front door. This is the A&E of women’s health and it really shouldn’t be forgotten. When the pandemic started, they were redeploying maternity staff to hospitals across the country, people just didn’t recognize the fact that pregnant women were still coming and giving birth. I think it may well be necessary to reconfigure the services.

Mr Titcombe understood why there was an urgent need for systemic change within maternity wards when her son Joshua died at Furness General Hospital nine days after his birth in 2008. The loss of his son l ‘led to the exposure of poor maternity care at the University. Morecambe Bay Trust Hospitals. Mr. Titcombe is a leading voice for maternity safety and works with the Baby Lifeline charity to help educate maternity staff on how to practice safer.

He said, “I think there was a little trend when the Morecambe Bay report came out, a lot of people were saying, you know, it’s an isolated failure, which happened in a little maternity hospital in the United States. North West England, rather than thinking, the reality is that these are issues that are likely affecting maternity hospitals across the country.

“Basically I think there was a missed opportunity after the Morecambe Bay report to say it wasn’t a one-time failure. These are issues that affect maternity services across the country. And we need systemic change in every maternity ward.


Our next virtual event is hosted by our foreign editor David Harding and will discuss the situation in Afghanistan and what the future holds for the country.

To register for “Afghanistan: an abandoned nation? ” will take place on September 1st on Zoom at 6.30 p.m. click here

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