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Troubled maternity wards still jeopardising patients, watchdog warns

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Babies and mothers are at risk of injury and death because too many maternity units have not improved care despite a string of childbirth scandals, a Care Quality Commission (CQC) report has warned.

In a highly critical report published on Tuesday, the CQC voiced serious concern that lessons are not being learned and that many incidents involving patients’ safety are still not being recorded.

Some hospitals have been “too slow” to take the steps needed to make labour and birth safer, despite multiple inquiries, reports and recommendations to do so, it said.

The CQC also found other persistent weaknesses in maternity care, including tension and difficulties between obstetric doctors and midwives and poor oversight of risks to patients during an in-depth inspection of maternity care at nine hospitals in England. The NHS has been criticised for major maternity scandals involving poor care, which sometimes persisted for many years, at trusts such as Morecambe Bay, East Kent and Shrewsbury and Telford.

The government, NHS leaders and patients have pressed the NHS in England to overhaul maternity safety to reduce the number of babies being left brain-damaged or dead and mothers injured or dead as a result of poor care during childbirth.

The watchdog also criticised hospitals for doing too little to seek the views from black, minority ethnic and poorer communities about how to improve their experience of giving birth. Black women are four times more likely to die in childbirth than white women, and Asian women twice as likely.

“We know that many maternity services are providing good care, but we remain concerned that there has not been enough learning from good and outstanding services,” said Ted Baker, the regulator’s chief inspector of hospitals.

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Source: The Guardian, 21 September 2021

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