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Maternity delays spark thousands of safety alerts each year

Maternity departments are raising thousands of safety reports every year about delayed inductions of labour, HSJ can reveal.

Induction of labour may be used when women are overdue, because their waters have broken, or for other medical reasons to speed up the birth, such as poor growth of the baby.

Delaying induction therefore may increase risks for both mothers and babies and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence says trusts should raise a “red flag event” if it is delayed for more than two hours after admission.

Information collected by HSJ from 50 trusts show 4,945 red flags related to delays in induction of labour in 2022-23. HSJ also found 3,109 reports in 2021-22 and 1,807 in 2020-21 across 47 trusts. 

Meanwhile, there were 1,997 Datix reports mentioning induction of labour in 2022-23 across 59 trusts able to give HSJ figures, in response to Freedom of Information Act requests, compared with 1,690 in 2021-22 and 1,368 in 2020-21. 

The Care Quality Commission has also raised concerns in inspections that incidents which should have been treated as “red flags” have not always been reported as such. The watchdog has also raised concerns about a lack of board-level oversight of maternity safety incidents and a need for clearer guidance for staff on reporting processes. 

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 2 April 2024


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