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Many English maternity units not meeting safety standards

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More than half of maternity units in England fail consistently to meet safety standards, BBC analysis of official statistics shows.

Health regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC) rates 7% of units as posing a high risk of avoidable harm. A further 48% require improvement.

The figures are slightly worse than a few years ago, despite several attempts to transform maternity care.

The regulator says the pace of improvement has been disappointing.

In most cases, pregnancy and birth are a positive and safe experience for women and their families, says the CQC. But when things do go wrong, it is important to understand what happened and whether the outcome could have been different.

Laura Ellis lost her newborn son when he was unexpectedly breech during advanced labour. She checked out the CQC rating of her local hospital, Frimley Park, when she was pregnant. Maternity services were good.

But Laura didn't realise the unit had been told that it required improvement on safety.

Laura said: "It was just so hard. So hard to deal with. So hard to leave as well. How would you leave your baby in hospital when you should be taking them home?"

Frimley Park NHS Foundation Trust says it has made a number of changes since Theo died, including an emergency response if a baby is unexpectedly breech during advanced labour.

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Source: BBC News, 21 September 2022

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