67% of NHS Maternity Units Deemed Unsafe

67% of NHS Maternity Units Deemed Unsafe
BSC, LLB (Hons) & LPC Sophia Azam
Legally reviewed by: BSC, LLB (Hons) & LPC Sophia Azam In: Medical Negligence

The Lowest Safety Ratings of All NHS Services

England’s healthcare regulator reports that maternity units have the worst safety ratings of all hospital services.

Recent Care Quality Commission (CQC) data records show that two thirds (67%) of maternity units to not be safe enough. This figure is worryingly up 55% from Autumn 2022.

Despite recent efforts to improve maternity care following recent investigations carried out by Donna Ockenden, a lack of midwives is partially to blame for continuously failing standards of care.

Additionally, BBC analysis reveals that maternity units with the safety ranking of “inadequate” (the poorest ranking), have more than doubled from 7% to 15% since September 2022. A ranking of inadequate means that there is a high risk to avoidable harm to mother and baby.

The government is now deeming the improvement of maternity care a matter of “upmost importance.”

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) are to invest £165m a year into boosting the maternity workforce. However, they state “we know there is more to do.”

Kate Terroni, the CQC’s Deputy Chief Executive states that since focused inspections started into maternity care in 2018, these findings are the “poorest they have seen”.

Comment from Nimish Patel

Nimish Patel, medical negligence solicitor states, “Whilst the Government have announced various projects and early warning reporting initiatives since 2015, systemic failings in obstetric care across the country and the need for lessons to be finally learnt and recommendations implemented is even more paramount to improve the safety of maternity care. The Ockendon inquiry last year named the four pillars for safe maternity care were:  safe staffing, well-trained workforce, learning from incidents and listening to families.”

“Despite inquiry after inquiry, apology after apology and constant litigation, neither the NHS or the government appear willing to tackle the real issues which would be revealed if there was a Statutory inquiry following on from the Ockendon review in order to address the issues raised for basic maternity care. Maternity related claims have the most impact on our Claimants as it will affect a child’s development for the rest of their lives or may affect the mother both physically and mentally.”

67% of Maternity Wards Failing Standards

The CQC has almost finished their national maternity investigation programme. However, the bigger picture is proving worse than first expected. The data now shows that 67% of all maternity units are classed as ‘Inadequate’ or ‘Requiring Improvement’ for safety. Furthermore, the proportion of wards in the lowest category has more than doubled.

Additionally, due to the CQC changing how they assess maternity units, the number it inspects has gone from 137 to 178.

NHS Not Expected to Meet Targets to Reduce Fatalities in Maternity Wards

In 2019, the NHS stated their commitment to reducing the number of fatalities by 50% by 2025. However, maternal deaths, neonatal deaths and stillbirths had been decreasing over the last decade.

Now with the release of the recent NHS care statistics, it is looking increasingly unlikely that the NHS will succeed in their 50% target.

Building a Culture Where Parents are Heard and Respected

Stillbirth and neonatal charity Sands spokeswoman Clea Harmer said on BBC breakfast that the stats were “really frightening”.

“If we can build a culture where parents are listened to respected and heard, maternity safety will improve.

“It’s about listening if the worst happens, and a baby does die. Listening to a parent, involving them in the review, making sure their voices are central and that will improve maternity safety.”

AWH Solicitors Covering Patient Safety in the NHS

AWH Solicitors has been writing articles covering the topic of patient safety in the NHS and medical negligence claims. Below you can read further about other relevant topics:

Seeking Maternity Negligence Compensation

With the latest statistic of 67% of maternity wards not providing adequate care, it’s important to raise awareness that you or a loved one may be able eligible for compensation following any suffering caused by a failure of care.

Our team supports and represents the families of maternity negligence, helping them get the support and guidance they need. Our team of expert solicitors can help families and individuals seek compensation and get the care they need.

At AWH, our solicitors are experts in successfully managing medical negligence claims. You can read more about our solicitor’s recent settlements here.

If you have questions or concerns about your maternity treatment, get in contact with our team.

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