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Maternity Safety Alliance calls for full statutory public inquiry
A group of families who have been affected by failures in NHS maternity care have written to the government calling for a full statutory public inquiry into maternity safety in England.
The Maternity Safety Alliance, a group of families who have been affected by failures in NHS maternity care, have written to the Health Secretary calling for a full statutory public inquiry into maternity safety in England.
The Alliance, which includes maternity safety campaigners, was formed over social media following the sharing of their personal experiences and heartache, as well as the frustrations at the lack of action by the government and Trusts to improve maternity safety.
It wants the inquiry to understand the true scale of maternity care failings, what is going wrong and why, and fix it once and for all. This includes ensuring the voices of women, families and staff are heard and looking at staffing and resourcing.
The alliance also wants to take a deep dive into failures of regulators and look at the structure and commissioning of services to see if it can be improved by looking at excellence in the UK and abroad
According to the group, over the last few years the overall stillbirth and neonatal death rates have increased, while the number of full term babies dying during labour has increased from 118 in 2019/20 to 192 in 2022/23. The number of mums dying during pregnancy or in the weeks following birth has increased too, from 10.9 deaths per 100,000 in 2018-20, to 11.7 deaths per 100,000 in 2019-21.
There needs to be systemic change in maternity services
The Royal College of Midwives said that it shared the frustration of the Maternity Safety Alliance at the pace of progress in maternity safety and said that it has consistently highlighted where improvements need to be made, including more investment in staff and training and the sharing of good practice across services, and have proactively shared with the government and NHS bodies the practical approaches to the challenges faced.
Birte Harlev-Lam, Executive Director Midwife, said: “Previous inquiries have made clear recommendations to improve safety, but too many of these are yet to be implemented, or are being implemented inconsistently. Midwives, maternity support workers and the wider maternity team are committed to improvements in safety, but this goes far beyond individuals.
“There needs to be systemic change, and that can only be achieved by all those involved – including professionals, regulators and NHS bodies – working together. The RCM has expressed its will and desire to make this happen. The government now needs to commit fully to supporting this work at a practical level.”