latest health care news

09.12.14

Fewer deaths following childbirth, but more lives can be saved

The number of women dying in or around childbirth has dropped over the last decade, but more could be done to save the lives of new mums, according to a new report. 

The ‘Saving Lives, Improving Mothers' Care’ report, led by Oxford University's National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, found that the overall number of deaths has dropped from 11 in every 100,000 in 2006-08 to 10 in every 100,000 in 2010-12. 

However, the researchers found that among the 321 women who died in childbirth in 2009-12, most had conditions caused or exacerbated by pregnancy. Two-thirds of the deaths were a result of medical and mental health problems in pregnancy, rather than direct complications such as bleeding. 

Marian Knight, Professor of Maternal and Child Population Health at Oxford University, said that although having a baby was becoming less and less deadly, better antenatal care and simple precautions were needed. 

“Indirect deaths are the biggest area where we need to see some action,” she said. “I cannot overemphasise the importance of flu vaccinations during pregnancy.” 

She urged prospective mothers, especially those with pre-existing conditions, to be persistent about getting the best care. In response to the findings, the Royal College of Midwives’ director for midwifery, Louise Silverton, said: “We welcome this long-awaited report and the drop in maternal deaths due to pregnancy complications, such as eclampsia, blood loss or blood clots. 

“However, we remain concerned about the high level of deaths amongst women with pre-existing medical conditions, such as a cardiac or neurological condition. The NHS needs to do more to prioritise these women’s care in its already overstretched maternity services. Through our Pressure Points campaign, the RCM has been campaigning and lobbying to improve postnatal care, especially during the vital first 24 hours after giving birth.” 

The report prompted renewed warnings from Public Health England (PHE) that pregnant women are at increased risk of complications and death from flu compared with other healthy adults. 

Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation for PHE, said: “Getting flu during pregnancy can lead to an increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth or having a low weight baby. Having the vaccination reduces the chances of getting flu, which in turn means the risk of these complications is significantly reduced.” 

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, added that  thanks to the care and expertise of midwives, giving birth in the UK is very safe, and the risk very small. 

“It’s positive that the number of deaths has reduced, but everyone is a tragedy and the lessons to be learnt from this inquiry should help make these tragedies less common,” he said. “The key issues raised in this report are sepsis and flu, and more can be done to prevent both of these risks. Early recognition of sepsis, followed by swift treatment, can make the difference between life and death. Many deaths from flu can be prevented by better uptake of the vaccination, and efforts must be stepped up to inform pregnant women about the benefits of vaccination.” 

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@nationalhealthexecutive.com

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

national health executive tv

more videos >

featured articles

View all News

last word

Haseeb Ahmad: ‘We all have a role to play in getting innovations quicker’

Haseeb Ahmad: ‘We all have a role to play in getting innovations quicker’

Haseeb Ahmad, president of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), sits down with National Health Executive as part of our Last Word Q&A series. Would you talk us throu more > more last word articles >

health service focus

View all News

comment

NHS England dementia director prescribes rugby for mental health and dementia patients

23/09/2019NHS England dementia director prescribes rugby for mental health and dementia patients

Reason to celebrate as NHS says watching rugby can be good for your mental ... more >
Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >

interviews

Matt Hancock says GP recruitment is on the rise to support ‘bedrock of the NHS’

24/10/2019Matt Hancock says GP recruitment is on the rise to support ‘bedrock of the NHS’

Today, speaking at the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) annual... more >

the scalpel's daily blog

NHS at 72: Managing mental health services going forward

03/07/2020NHS at 72: Managing mental health services going forward

Sean Duggan, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Network Let’s take this opportunity to reflect on the amazing achievements of our health system over the past few ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

editor's comment

26/06/2020Adapting and Innovating

Matt Roberts, National Health Executive Editorial Lead. NHE May/June 2020 Edition We’ve been through so much as a health sector and a society in recent months with coronavirus and nothing can take away from the loss and difficulties that we’ve faced but it vital we also don’t disregard the amazing efforts we’ve witnessed. Staff have gone above and beyond, whole hospitals and trusts have flexed virtually at will to meet demand and pressures and we’ve... read more >