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30.01.18

CQC: ‘Very positive results’ as maternity care continuing to improve

The number of women in England who were always treated with dignity during the maternity process hit 88% last year, says the CQC.

The regulator surveyed more than 18,000 people across the country and found increasingly positive trends in the quality of care, information and access to support.

A majority of women (77%) reported that they had never been left alone during their baby’s birth at a time when it worried them, while nearly everyone said they had been asked how they were feeling emotionally by their midwife or health visitor.

However, only 66% of the women surveyed felt they were always given the information or explanations they needed after birth before returning home – an increase on some of the previous stats, but still relatively low.

In total, there were 130 trusts involved in the report, whose research took place between April and August 2017.

Responding to the CQC’s findings, Mandy Forester, head of quality and standards at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), said the results were pleasing and showed “really encouraging” developments – but she warned that more work is still necessary.

“Overall the results indicate improvements in areas of maternity care since 2015, but there is still much more that can be done to ensure women are experiencing the best possible care and treatment during their pregnancy,” Forester explained.

“In England we remain 3,500 midwives short of the number needed to deliver safe, high quality care and more investment in our maternity services is needed to help us achieve the best outcomes for both mother and baby.”

While the results deal with people’s opinions on care rather than specific medical improvements, the positive results are an encouraging sign at a time when health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt has been prompted to pursue a new strategy in maternity.

The secretary of state announced the plan in December, which included a request to the newly-formed Health Safety Investigations Branch (HSIB) to begin investigations into the 80% of stillbirths in the UK that are considered preventable.

This year’s CQC review was the fifth of its kind and showed a significant overall improvement, as well as general advancements in individual categories.

The report works alongside the regulator’s State of Care report, which chief inspector of hospitals Professor Ted Baker analysed for NHE late last year.

Following the release of today’s report, Baker said: “This year’s survey shows some very positive results about the quality of maternity care being provided in the NHS. This is a testament to efforts and dedication of staff working hard to provide care for pregnant women and new mothers across the country.

“The survey identifies a number of encouraging data trends showing improvements in women’s experiences throughout pregnancy, during birth and postnatally, and it indicates a greater focus on women’s individual needs and choices.

“However, the scope for continued improvement remains, particularly in relation to women’s choices about their antenatal care and ensuring enough information is available to support women through any emotional changes they might experience after giving birth.”

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