Maternity training investigated in new report

By Julie Griffiths on 12 November 2018 Report Midwife Training NHS Staff

Mothers and babies are at risk because of a critical lack of frontline staff training, according to a report published by maternity charity Baby Lifeline. 

Mind the gap: an investigation into the maternity training gap between NHS trusts in the UK was compiled by the charity to provide an overall picture of maternity training in the NHS.  

It found that the spend on maternity training varied widely from £1051.66 annually at one NHS trust to £372,878 in another (July 2017 to July 2018). 

The report reviews the extent to which existing guidance and recommendations on maternity training are being followed by NHS trusts.

NHS England said the Saving babies lives care bundle, published in 2016, can prevent over 600 stillbirths a year, when properly adopted by all trusts.  

But Mind the gap revealed that only 7.9% of NHS trusts have adopted the training guidance within the Saving babies lives care bundle.It is calling for the guidance to be mandatory and to be rolled out across the UK. 

The NHS currently faces claims of £2.1bn on maternity-related clinical negligence cases (2017-18 figures), compared with the £1.9bn per year that is spent on birthing babies.  

Judy Ledger, founder and chief executive of Baby Lifeline, said the report looked at the training delivered on the front line rather than the aims.

‘It highlights the training actually delivered in the last financial year rather than showing the intentions of trusts to provide it. The report shows there is a clear difference between what is said is being done and what is happening, and we’re highlighting this so that action can be taken for the benefit of mothers and their babies,’ said Judy.

The Mind the gap report notes that most baby deaths and injuries (between 76% to 79%) investigated by national bodies are avoidable with different care, and that training of frontline staff can have a significant impact in reducing this amount.  

Dr William Parry-Smith, a registrar obstetrician and gynaecologist in the West Midlands Deanery and Trustee of Baby Lifeline, said: ‘Baby Lifeline’s report shows that there are still unacceptable variations in training that staff receive and there’s no consistency in trusts’ spending. The focus needs to be on ensuring maternity staff across the country are consistently given the opportunities they need to be prepared to save lives.’

The figures were gathered by Baby Lifeline through a Freedom of Information request sent to all NHS trusts and boards in the UK in July 2018.

Read the full report here.