Maternity services warning sparks care concerns in Burnley

The findings come amid mounting concerns over a national shortage of midwives and rising birth rates in the north west.
The findings come amid mounting concerns over a national shortage of midwives and rising birth rates in the north west.
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Promoted by Diane Rostron

Stretched maternity services need to improve to give patients the care they deserve, according to a new report.

Stretched maternity services need to improve to give patients the care they deserve, according to a new report.

The Care Quality Commission’s new State of Care report warns that nearly half of all maternity and gynaecology services in England are performing under par.

The findings come amid mounting concerns over a national shortage of midwives and rising birth rates in the North West: there has been an 11 per cent increase in the number of babies born in the region since 2001.

To add to concerns, there has also been a dramatic rise in the number of women in their 40s giving birth in England. The ‘higher risk’ births have soared over 80 per cent from 16,000 in 2001 to 29,000 last year.

The official findings add to concern over safety for babies and mothers in the care of maternity services in the North following a series of distressing incidents and claims of medical negligence.

According to leading birth injuries lawyer Diane Rostron, the report confirms fears that maternity services are struggling to cope – raising the risk of medical blunders.

She said shortfalls in the quality of care can lead to devastating consequences for families.

“Overstretched services mean that staff are under increasing pressure and are more likely to make mistakes. The effects are devastating leaving too many babies, mothers and whole families living with preventable catastrophic injuries for life,” she said.

“Physical injuries can devastate lives, while some will also suffer significant psychological trauma in addition to this.

“Pregnant women need to know that they can trust their local maternity services to deliver proper, and safe care.

“The fact that almost half of our maternity and gynaecology services are operating in a manner that is not regarded as good enough by the Care Quality Commission should be a red flag to us all.”

She has called for further funding and training for midwives and investment in maternity units to ensure that all pregnant women receive a safe level of patient care.

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East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust has paid out £57million in negligence claims over the past five years, of which £2.75m has gone towards historic claims dating back years.

NHS Resolution, the organisation that handles compensation claims on behalf of the NHS in England, recently revealed in its annual report that medical negligence claims against maternity units are up by almost a quarter on the previous year.

Parents lodged claims at a rate of nearly 20 a month during 2016-17, with the 232 claims representing a jump of 23 per cent on the previous year, and the highest for 11 years.

The recent CGC report says that while there have been some improvements in women’s perceptions of being offered more choice regarding their personal maternity care, over a third of maternity services inspected need to improve.

RCM head of health and social policy Sean O’Sullivan said: “Despite the government’s welcome commitment to 3000 more midwives in England, maternity services remain under pressure with births becoming more complex.

“We also see systems in trusts that do not support midwives and their maternity colleagues being able to deliver the best possible care and this needs to change.”

East Lancashire NHS Trust was placed in ‘special measures’ in 2013 by the CQC amid concerns over higher-than expected death rates. By January last year it had received a “good” rating by inspectors, however, it’s thought there may be families affected by poor care and negligence in the past who have yet to find out if they may be entitled to compensation.

Ms Rostron, who has extensive experience and success in representing families who have been affected by catastrophic birth injuries, has called for people with concerns to get in touch.

“It’s important that the NHS thoroughly and properly investigates these incidents and more importantly, that lessons are learned.

“The families affected have to live with real hardship and that never goes away.”

Families who have been affected by significant birth injuries can contact her team for a confidential chat on 01253 766 559. For more information visit www.dianerostron.co.uk