A review of NHS England's maternity provision, released today, has made wide ranging proposals to improve safety for mothers and babies, and to increase the choices for women when accessing services.
One issue raised by the report is increasing the continuity of care for mothers so that they can build up a relationship with midwifes during pregnancy. It is hoped that by improving this safety can also be increased.
The proposals also include suggestions for improving the collection of data, referring more quickly when there are problems, and, where care has gone wrong, an investigation process which is consistent across the country.
Efforts to improve the investigation and learning process are to be welcomed, but it is important that these are put into practice. The statistics quoted below show that there are still considerable steps to be taken to improve maternity services and to prevent avoidable injuries to mothers and babies.
The numbers of stillbirths and deaths soon after birth have fallen by over a fifth in the past decade to 4.3 and 1.8 per 1,000 births respectively In half of all stillbirths, there are elements of care that if improved could have made a difference Nearly half of all inspections of maternity services resulted in safety assessments that were classed as either "inadequate" or "requires improvement" In about one in 17 births, there are incidents that result in some level of harm to either the baby or the mother