Royal College of Midwives to build maternity services that are ‘envy of the world’ in wake of birth inquiry

After the UK birth inquiry probe documenting sub-standard maternity care on the NHS, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has pledged to elevate services for expectant mothers. 

Bosses have claimed that after the election, the new UK government will have the opportunity to ‘shape healthier lives’ through postnatal and perinatal care in the nation’s hospitals. The birth inquiry earlier this year lead to a widespread campaign after those who had suffered at the hands of NHS care. Legal action has been taken against a number of hospitals after births had gone awry, with many mothers claiming they had little to no post-natal care.

Medical negligence solicitors in the UK are expecting a surge in claims as the NHS is embroiled in a birth trauma inquiry following reports of sub-standard medical care in midwifery and obstetrics. After a review of evidence and 1,300 submissions to parliament from mothers who gave birth in NHS hospitals, the health body has been accused of ‘covering up’ blunders.

Scores of women have shared their experiences, with over half of them revealing they suffered from ‘PTSD reactions’ post birth, with a high incidence of post natal depression. Among the reports were accounts of women being denied pain relief, being shouted at by health professionals and ‘feeling ignored’ by midwives when they felt something was wrong.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) have said they welcome the report, saying in a statement: ‘Overall the report highlights several key themes including: failure to listen to women, lack of informed consent, poor communication, lack of pain relief, lack of kindness, breastfeeding problems, postnatal care, impact of COVID and medical negligence’. RCOG are in support of further training and recruitment of midwives, obstetricians and anaesthetists. The college have acknowledged that one of the most commonly reported issues was severe perineal tear, which can occur during vaginal birth and lead to painful stitches and infection.

The RCM has called on all political parties to invest in maternity services in a bid to ‘ensure that every woman and family that walks through the doors of any maternity service, anywhere in the country, is confident they are receiving the best possible care’.

The College has asked changes of the next Parliament which will, it says, ‘radically and sustainably’ improve maternity care. The focus will centre around ensuring staff are in the right place, supported by the right education and training alongside ensuring maternity services reflect the needs of both patients and staff.  After announcing the requests, RCM Chief Executive Gill Walton said:

“While much of the debate during this election campaign will be about waiting lists, it’s vital that politicians don’t forget about maternity care. For many women, their first major interaction with the NHS and their gateway to other care is through maternity services. That’s a fantastic opportunity to shape healthier lives, for this and future generations, and it deserves investment of time, attention and resource. Midwives and maternity support workers do that day in, day out, and we want to see that level of commitment from policy-makers too.”

The RCM have said they are keen to work with politicians to show them how to build on the good work that’s happening and help them amplify it across all services. Ms Walton continued:

“We have to learn from the good. We know there’s some great work going on around recruitment and retention of staff, better support for marginalised communities, and more flexibility around routes into midwifery. The RCM wants to be a partner for progress, for the improvements we all recognise are needed in maternity care and midwifery education. I genuinely believe that, by working together, we can build maternity services that are the envy of the world – and that starts with the commitment of the next Parliament.”

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