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Concerns Over Maternity Units in England Failing to Meet Basic Safety Standards
  • Nov 24, 2022
  • Latest News

by Natasha Gibbons - Associate Solicitor

Victoria Vallance, the Director of the Care Quality Commission, the independent regulator of social care in England has expressed that she is ‘worried’ and ‘concerned’ about the number of maternity units in England that are failing to meet basic safety standards.

The comments follow a BBC analysis of official statistics published by the CQC which reveal that alarmingly, 7% of the 137 maternity units in England pose a high risk to their patients whilst 48% require safety improvement. Although 62% of units were found to have ‘good’ safety ratings, no unit was found to be ‘outstanding’ for safety.

At Lanyon Bowdler, we represent families all over England and Wales who have suffered due to failings in their maternity care and we have previously provided comment on the maternity scandals that have been identified at Morecombe Bay, East Kent, Nottingham and Shrewsbury and Telford. The  CQC’s findings reveal that there are far more maternity units giving rise to concern and what the Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives has termed an ‘ongoing crisis in maternity services’.
Whilst the experience of most families on maternity units is positive, when things go wrong, the consequences can be catastrophic. The CQC’s findings follow the publication of the Ockenden Report in March 2022 which recommended 15 immediate and essential actions required across all maternity services in England. It is therefore concerning that despite specific problems being identified within maternity units which pose a risk to patients, little improvement is being seen within maternityunits to reduce those risks.

Consistent problems are being identified across all  services such as lack of staff training and failure to manage the risk of women who are deteriorating. Inadequate funding and staffing levels have been identified as root causes in many Trusts but despite plans for improvements and Government investment of £127 million to expand the NHS maternity workforce, on top of the £95 million per year being spent to boost maternity staff numbers, few changes have been seen in practice and the pace of improvements has been described by the CQC as ‘disappointing’.

If you are concerned about the standard of care you have received from your maternity unit, do not hesitate to contact our specialist team for advice.