Nationwide review of failing maternity services is needed

25 April 2022

The Times recently reported that 80 out of 193 maternity units are rated as inadequate by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) which means almost half fail to meet the most basic standards of safety. This means that many more mothers and babies than those identified by the Ockenden report into failings at the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust may still be at risk due to unsafe and unsuitable maternity units, resulting in preventable deaths.
Families are also calling for a public inquiry into maternity care in Nottingham. Many have written to Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, insisting that he appoint Donna Ockenden to investigate maternity care in Nottingham. Investigations into East Kent Maternity Services by Dr Bill Kirkup, who led the investigation into serious maternity failings at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS foundation Trust have revealed a culture riven by denial, collusion and incompetence.

Ella Kubicki, a paralegal in Shoosmiths Serious injury team, says:

“It is disappointing that, despite multiple reviews into the quality of care provided to mothers and babies, it would seem that a large cross-section of the population still does not have access to safe and well-equipped maternity services”.

Missed opportunity to learn from mistakes

Shoosmiths consistently acts for women who have experienced inadequate care in maternity units and sees the consequences on a regular basis. The damaging culture of pushing for ‘natural births’ was cited as a factor in the Ockenden report into poor care at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust, but the key problem across the board appears to be a failure to learn from mistakes.

Chief among these avoidable and consistently repeated errors according to Shoosmiths’ Erica Burrows specialist clinical negligence Solicitor, is cases where CTG traces are misinterpreted along with issues such as poor record keeping and errors in risk management. This pattern of inadequate care suggests the quality of maternity services is a national crisis rather than the result of individual Trust incompetency.

Both Ella and Erica maintain that this evidence of inadequate care across England and Wales means that a nationwide inquiry, rather than the individual Trust investigations currently being carried out, into the standard of maternity provision is now necessary to ensure the safety of new mothers and babies, to prevent further avoidable harm.


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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