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January 27th 2020

Birth Negligence

Failure of NHS to train all maternity staff in emergency situations for mothers and babies is ‘incomprehensible’

Amanda Stevens

Amanda Stevens

Chief Executive Officer, Senior Solicitor

Failure of NHS to train all maternity staff in emergency situations for mothers and babies is ‘incomprehensible’

Lawyers who support families of children injured at birth as a result of negligent maternity care say it is ‘incomprehensible’ that UK health trusts don’t insist on all staff being trained in caring and screening unwell newborns.

Lawyers who support families of children injured at birth as a result of negligent maternity care say it is ‘incomprehensible’ that UK health trusts don’t insist on all staff being trained in caring and screening unwell newborns.

It comes on the back of the first ever National Maternity Safety Conference in Birmingham, organised by mother and baby charity Baby Lifeline and attended by leading maternity experts, politicians, academics and campaigners.

The event examined and reflected on the progress and impact of numerous initiatives aimed at halving the rate of stillbirths, neonatal and maternal deaths in England – which has higher rates than many other European countries.

Baby Lifeline is campaigning for the Government to reintroduce an £8.1m maternity training fund, and that the money be prioritised to adequately provide high-quality training across heath trusts in areas proven to reduce mortality and morbidity.

It comes as research into training by Baby Lifeline, in its ‘Mind The Gap’ report, revealed that two thirds of maternity trusts don’t make attending training sessions on caring and screening unwell newborn babies mandatory for all staff.

Just one in five trusts insist that all maternity staff be trained on the early recognition and management of severely and critically ill woman during childbirth.

Amanda Stevens, chief executive of Hudgell Solicitors, says little will change unless maternity staff are regularly trained in dealing with emergency situations, and able to intervene as soon as things go wrong in pregnancy and birth.She said: “The continued avoidable serious injury and loss of life to mothers and babies across the UK is one of the most heartbreaking and frustrating elements of NHS care.

“Sadly, we continue to see far too many cases where maternity units have failed to intervene appropriately when something has gone wrong during pregnancy and birth. These failures to act in a timely manner are costing lives or leading to lifelong injury. They can and should be avoided.

“Quite simply, the numbers of cases we continue to see are completely unacceptable, and not enough is being done to lessen the devastating harm being caused to families.

“Given the commitment made by the Government to reducing the numbers of cases over the next five years, it seems incomprehensible that training in early intervention and screening unwell newborn babies is not mandatory for all maternity staff nationally.

“Without properly funded and high-quality training in key maternity skills such as emergency response and intervention, we simply cannot expect to halve avoidable stillbirths, neonatal and maternal deaths and brain injuries occurring during or soon after birth by 2025.”

Reinstatement of fund could train 30,000 maternity staff

The Baby Lifeline charity has repeatedly called for extra funding, equipment and support to help improve the care provided to mothers and babies after birth since it was launched in 1981.

It has called for the Government to reinstate the Maternity Safety Training Fund, an initiative which saw 30,000 staff access training to improve maternity care in 2016.

It comes as its latest ‘Mind The Gap’ report uncovered major inconsistencies in maternity training, with some trusts investing more than £370,000 a year, and others as little as £1,051.

Judy Ledger, founder and chief executive of the charity, said: “Three in four baby deaths and injuries are preventable with different care, however, the tragic human and financial consequences of this harm continues.

“Organisations must be supported to provide complete and consistent training in topics relating to saving the lives of mothers and babies, such as co-morbidities in pregnancy, sepsis, and perinatal mental health. The whole maternity team should be equipped to recognise and manage these issues. It is clear this is still not happening.

“Training should be provided for all staff who work with newborn babies on the recognition and initial management of an unwell, newborn child.

“In addition to this, all staff who work with mothers and babies should be required to attend regular training on basic resuscitation of mothers and babies as a minimum standard. It is completely unacceptable that this is not the case.”

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