Government Watchdog Publishes Report Focusing on Key Areas for Improving Maternity Services in a Bid to ‘Get Safer Faster’
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspects and regulates health and social care services in the UK with the aim of ensuring that those services are providing people with safe, effective, and high-quality care. Its latest report focuses on key areas for improvement in maternity services, with the aim of “getting safer faster”.
Every woman wants and expects a positive birth experience, and every health professional caring for her wants and expects to provide it. Most UK births end well and safely, but when they don’t the devastating impact on the families and the health service are long-lasting.
There have been improvements in maternity care since the last report in 2017, in which half of all maternity services had been rated “inadequate” or “requires improvement” in relation to the question “are maternity services safe?”. The number of maternity services rated “inadequate” has dropped from 13 to 2 in the latest report, and the number of maternity units rated “good” has risen by almost a third. Despite this improvement, almost 4 in 10 maternity units are “inadequate” (2) or “require improvement” in their maternity safety rating.
In units where ratings are below “good” many of the same themes from the 2015 Kirkup Report have been identified:
- Staff not having the right skills or knowledge
- Poor working relationships between obstetricians, midwives, and neonatologists
- Poor risk assessments
- Failures to ensure that there is an investigation
- Learning from when things go wrong
The report notes that these themes are “still affecting the safety of maternity care today”. Professionals working on the frontline of maternity services “want to provide the best care possible, but there are consistent issues that affect their ability to provide this care”.
The CQC has set out three key areas that it believes will help improve maternity services so that they’re safer, faster:
- Governance, leadership and risk management
- Individual staff competencies, teamworking and multi-professional training
- Active engagement with women using maternity services
With such a spotlight on maternity at the moment, owing to the national ambition of halving avoidable harm in maternity by 2025, we welcome this report by the CQC in how to improve safety in maternity services. It not only takes into account what has been found whilst inspecting maternity services, but also what parents think of the services they’re using.
Our Honorary President and Chair of the Inquiry into Morecambe Bay and now into maternity services in East Kent, Dr Bill Kirkup CBE, has said: “This is an important report from CQC. It shines a light on a problem that needs to be recognised.”
The report ends by highlighting that “safe maternity care is not an ambitious or unrealistic goal. It should be the minimum expectation for women and babies – who should also be receiving care that is person-centred, supportive and empowering. Improvements in safety still need to be made to ensure that this is the case for everyone, every time.”
To read the full report and the detailed recommendations, please follow this link.