Government pledge to improve safety and care in maternity services

21 July 2023

This week, the Minister for Women’s Health, Maria Caulfield, has set out measures which are to be taken by the Government to improve safety standards in maternity and neonatal care across the country.

Following on the heels of the damning report of Dr Kirkup into the failings of East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust, which found evidence of preventable deaths of up to 45 babies within the Trust, the Government has vowed to improve safety for mothers and their babies within the NHS. 

Maria Caulfield has announced she will be chairing a group overseeing maternity services nationwide. This group, to be known as The Maternity and Neonatal Care National Oversight Group, will see key individuals from the NHS and other organisations collaborate to set up programmes to improve maternity and neonatal care and ensure the effective implementation of Dr Kirkup’s recommendations. 

It was also announced that Dr Kirkup has been appointed to lead the work to ensure collaborative working between maternity and neonatal teams across England to ensure the best quality of care for patients. 

Following Dr Kirkup’s report, the below actions are being or have been taken:

  • A special data Task Force has been set up by NHS England to better monitor patient safety in maternity and neonatal care nationwide
  • Relevant bodies will work with the Department to investigate how teamwork in maternity and neonatal care spaces can be improved
  • Relevant bodies will work with the Department to investigate how doctors in training can be better trained to improve teamworking and their own personal development
  • Trusts will have to ensure there is proper representation of maternity care on their boards
  • The Government will continue to work with NHS England on its approach to poorly performing Trusts and their leadership
  • East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust will continue working to address the problems identified and improve standards

The Government has also revealed that £165 million of additional annual investment is being made in order to ensure improvements in the quality of care for mothers and children within the NHS. 

We echo Maria Caulfield’s comments that “Every woman deserves to feel confident in the care they and their baby receive” – sadly we act for a significant number of women and children who received poor standards of care during their pregnancy and delivery resulting in serious injury. 

We hope that the proposals outlined by the Government will ensure that improvements are seen and result in consistently high standards of care across the country’s maternity units.



This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024

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