November 26th 2020

Medical Negligence

£9.4m investment into ‘cutting edge training’ on UK maternity wards should bring much needed improvement in care standards

Amanda Stevens

Amanda Stevens

Managing Director, London and South

£9.4m investment into ‘cutting edge training’ on UK maternity wards should bring much needed improvement in care standards

It was absolutely fantastic to hear the Government pledge a new £9.4m investment into improving safety standards on UK maternity wards.

It was absolutely fantastic to hear the Government pledge a new £9.4m investment into improving safety standards on UK maternity wards.

The funding was announced as part of the eagerly anticipated spending review, unveiled by Chancellor Rishi Sunak yesterday.

It is a move which should help the NHS make significant progress towards the target of halving stillbirths, neonatal deaths and brain injuries, and maternal mortality by 2025.

Having myself being part of a campaign calling for a similar investment into training, which was taken all the way to Number 10 Downing Street in March of this year, the news is especially pleasing.

We supported the mother and baby charity Baby Lifeline in raising awareness of a lack of funding for maternity training and equipment, and it was a campaign which won the support of the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

It was also backed by influential senior figures who have led reviews into continued maternity care failings in UK hospitals.

The new funding has been pledged with the promise of introducing new pilots of “cutting-edge training” to improve practice during childbirth, and with the aim of reducing the number of birth-related brain injuries.

In a year where there have been so many challenges for the Government and the NHS, it is pleasing to see maternity hasn’t been forgotten, and never should it be so.

Continued investment, training and learning is key to maternity care improvement

Given our work at Hudgell Solicitors in supporting families whose lives are massively affected by avoidable birth injury, we have always believed it to be a major failing for there not to be consistent and continued investment into maternity care training.

Alongside Baby Lifeline, we have called for standardised training across all NHS maternity wards, focussed on improving systems and protocols and ensuring open and transparent cultures are nurtured to ensure mistakes are addressed and lessons learned.

The Government deserves credit for committing to this investment, especially in the current climate, but the people who have campaigned so hard on this issue also deserve huge credit too.

Over the past few years there have been an appalling number of scandals related to maternity care in the UK, including the single largest maternity scandal in NHS history being exposed last year at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals Trust, where dozens of babies died or were left with brain damage and an ongoing independent investigation has looked into almost 1,900 cases of poor care.

In January this year it emerged that 138 babies at East Kent Hospitals University Trust had been starved of oxygen at birth, with dozens more deaths, whilst the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has warned a third of units across England need to improve on safety.

This investment finally demonstrates the kind of commitment required to better protect women and babies, and prevent a large number of lives being forever affected by negligent maternity care.

And whilst the new funding is something to be celebrated, it can’t be a one off.

The maternity profession needs repeated investment and training to improve and maintain standards into the future, and ensure future generations benefit from the best possible care.

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