Significant action is being taken to improve the quality of NHS maternity care, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced.
Women’s health minister, Maria Caulfield, will chair a group that will oversee the provision of maternity care nationally.
Part of the group’s work will include ensuring the recommendations from Dr Bill Kirkup’s independent review into East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust’s maternity services are implemented – which the government has just officially responded to.
Caulfield has further appointed Dr Kirkup to lead on work making sure maternity and neonatal teams can work collaboratively so the best care possible is provided.
Other organisations such as the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives have been urged to support government efforts to encourage team-building across the health sector.
The royal colleges, along with regulators and providers, have been further asked to explore how they can improve workplace culture to maintain high standards.
The government says the following actions are either being taken, or have been taken, following Dr Kirkup’s report:
- Introduction of a data taskforce to monitor patient safety within maternity and neonatal services;
- Relevant organisations working with the DHSC to see how teamwork can be improved;
- Investigations into how doctors can be better trained to enhance teamwork;
- Ensure there is proper representation of maternity care on NHS trust boards;
- Continued work on the government’s approach to poorly performing trusts;
- East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust will continue to improve standards.
NHS England’s national clinical director for maternity review and women’s health, Dr Matthew Jolly, said: "We welcome the government’s response to Dr Bill Kirkup’s report – the failings in care for women, babies and their families using East Kent Hospital must not continue to be repeated.
“NHS England has installed an improvement director at the trust alongside a senior advisor, and both are providing expert practical advice to the organisation on the actions it needs to implement to improve its maternity and neonate care, while senior national NHS clinical leaders are regularly visiting both maternity units to monitor progress.”
NHS Providers' director of policy and strategy, Miriam Deakin, added: "We hope their focus on improving teamwork helps tackle longstanding cultural issues that can undermine the safety of services. While this government announcement is welcome, sustainable improvement will depend on proper investment in workforce and capital."
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