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Care substandard at 39% of maternity units in England, NHS watchdog finds

Two out of five maternity units in England are providing substandard care to mothers and babies, the NHS watchdog has warned.

“The quality of maternity care is not good enough,” the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said in its annual assessment of how health and social care services are performing.

It published new figures showing it rated 39% of maternity units it inspected in the year to 31 July to “require improvement” or be “inadequate” – the highest proportion on record.

Ian Trenholm, the CQC’s chief executive, said maternity services were deteriorating, substandard care was unacceptably common and failings were “systemic” across the NHS.

Its latest state of care report said: “Our ratings as of 31 July 2022 show that the quality of maternity services is getting worse, with 6% of NHS services (nine out of 139) now rated as inadequate and 32% (45 services) rated as require improvement.

“This means that the care in almost two out of every five maternity units is not good enough.”

The report said: “The findings of recent reviews and reports … show the same concerns emerging again and again. The quality of staff training, poor working relationships between obstetric and midwifery teams and a lack of robust risk assessment all continue to affect the safety of maternity services. These issues pose a barrier to good care.”

Staff not listening to women during pregnancy and childbirth is a recurring problem, Trenholm said. Their concerns “are not being heard” by midwives and obstetricians “in the way that they should”.

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Source: The Guardian, 21 October 2022


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