Maternity Royal Colleges welcome landmark report into maternity care
on 06 July 2021 Maternity Services Midwifery Midwives NHS Safe high quality care RCOG - Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists RCOG Department of Health Pregnancy Safety Obstetricians Health Select Committee Midwife Shortage
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) have welcomed the findings of a landmark report released today by MPs into maternity safety. In particular the call for urgent action to address staffing shortfalls in maternity services.
The report recognises that while the NHS offers some of the safest maternal outcomes in the world, there remains worrying variation in the quality of maternity care, which means that the safe delivery of a healthy baby is not experienced by all mothers.
One of the biggest causes of concern identified by MPs was around staffing and culture in maternity services. The report said it recognised this had started to improve but there was a persistent ‘culture of blame’. The report called for urgent action to address staffing shortfalls in maternity services, along with an increase in budget for maternity services by a minimum of £200 - £350 million per year.
Dr Edward Morris, President at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “We have been deeply concerned for some time now about how stretched and understaffed maternity services in England are. We are well aware that this sort of pressurised environment can affect the quality and safety of care provided to mothers and their babies, and restricts the choices available to women. We are pleased to see that MPs have called for urgent action to address these staffing shortfalls and that additional funding is recommended.
“We also strongly support the report’s recommendation to end disparities in maternal and neonatal outcomes among women from minority ethnic and socio-economically deprived backgrounds, and to implement a clear timeframe for achieving this goal. It’s unacceptable that these health disparities exist and we believe all women, irrespective of location, age, or ethnicity, should be able to access the same high-quality care.”
Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “Our maternity services are among the safest in the world, and getting safer, and most women who use them will have safe, good quality care. However, too many women are let down by the NHS, and sometimes the results of this are terrible and tragic. We must have a system that is open, and that recognises, investigates, and learns when things go wrong, so that safety continually improves and so that families get the truth, redress, and support they so often have to fight for.
“Midwives, maternity support workers and other maternity staff have been working incredibly hard, under extraordinary pressure for many, many years to deliver the safest and best possible care. They have been doing this within a system that often fails them by not giving them the staff, resources, and modern facilities they need to do their jobs as safely as possible. Midwives and maternity staff go to work each day to deliver a high standard of safe care, but often this is compromised by underinvestment, and lack of acknowledgement about the importance of leadership in midwifery. This in turn means that too many women, their babies, and their families, are not getting the service they should rightly expect and deserve. This is unacceptable for women and for the dedicated staff that strive to care for them.
“There is investment going into maternity to increase staffing levels, provide more training and to improve resources. The working culture in maternity services is also improving and the RCM in partnership with the RCOG is also working hard together to improve this further. However, all this this is against a background of a decade or more of serious midwifery shortages and underfunding. These reports show that the Government must step up and they must give our maternity services the staff and the money it needs, and they must do it quickly.”
Notes to editor
The Health Select Committee safety of maternity services in England Report can be read at The safety of maternity services in England - Health and Social Care Committee - House of Commons (parliament.uk).
The Health and Social Care Committee’s Expert Panel: Evaluation of the Government’s progress against its policy commitments in the area of maternity services in England report can be read at The safety of maternity services in England - Health and Social Care Committee - House of Commons (parliament.uk).
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) is a medical charity that champions the provision of high quality women’s healthcare in the UK and beyond. It is dedicated to encouraging the study and advancing the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. It does this through postgraduate medical education and training and the publication of clinical guidelines and reports on aspects of the specialty and service provision.
The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance, and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences, and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website.