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Inspection blitz on maternity units amid new system safety concerns

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Almost 200 maternity units in England will be inspected by the Care Quality Commission amid fears for mothers and babies’ safety and concerns that improvements are not happening fast enough.

The commission is taking the unusual step as NHS England faces accusations of pressuring hospitals to reorganise the way midwives work when they lack the staff to do it safely.

The new model of care, which is designed to provide mothers with a dedicated midwife throughout pregnancy, has been introduced only partially across the NHS, leading to a two-tier service in which hospital wards are left short of staff and women face potentially dangerous delays.

Under “continuity of carer”, midwives work in teams and are on call for specific mothers when they go into labour. But this can leave hospital wards understaffed and women not included in the programme waiting for a midwife.

NHS England is pushing hospitals to make this the default model of care by March 2024 despite a warning by Donna Ockenden, who led the inquiry into baby deaths at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust, and who said in her final report that introduction of the new model should be suspended if services lack enough staff.

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Source: The Times, 14 August 2022

Further reading - Midwifery continuity of carer resources on the hub.

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