The government is dedicated to improving safety for mothers and their babies to ensure standards of NHS maternity and neonatal care are of the highest quality.
This is how we are boosting the quality of care in maternity services in England.
How are you improving patient safety in maternity and neonatal care?
- The NHS is one of the safest places to give birth worldwide, but we are determined to ensure that maternity care maintains the same high standard for everyone.
- We have increased the annual maternity budget by £165 million since 2021 to support the maternity workforce and enhance neonatal care.
- All baby deaths are investigated by NHS trusts, as well as the independent Maternity Investigation Programme, to understand and learn from deaths, improve care and provide clear information to parents.
- We have addressed maternity failings at East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust through an independent review and have published our full response. Minister for Women’s Health, Maria Caulfield, will now personally chair a new group overseeing maternity services nationwide. Read more here.
How does the Maternity Disparities Taskforce help in tackling maternal disparities?
- The Maternity Disparities Taskforce was established in February 2022 to tackle disparities for mothers and babies and reduce maternal and neonatal deaths, co-chaired by Minister Maria Caulfield.
- The Taskforce brings together experts from across the health system, government departments and the voluntary sector to explore and consider evidence-based interventions to tackle maternal disparities.
- The taskforce last met in April 2023, and are currently focused on preconception care, as preconception care can have a positive impact on maternal and child health outcomes.
How are you enhancing the experiences of families seeking maternity and neonatal care?
- NHS England's three-year delivery plan for maternity and neonatal services aims to enhance care, making it safer, more personalised and equitable for women, babies and families.
- This involves listening to women and families with compassion, supporting the NHS workforce, and fostering a culture of safety to drive up standards.
- The Tommy's Miscarriage Centre at Birmingham Women and Children's Hospital are launching a pilot in which women who experience one or two miscarriages are offered testing and further investigation to identify any medical conditions which may be preventing them from having a safe birth. The government will evaluate the outcomes of the pilot at the end of this year.
What are you doing to improve maternity services in response to Dr Bill Kirkup’s report?
- We have formed the Maternity and Neonatal Care National Oversight Group, led by Minister Caulfield, to bring together key people from the NHS and other organisations. It will look at work being carried out by a range of programmes set up to improve maternity and neonatal care, including the implementation of Dr Kirkup’s and other recommendations, to ensure they are joined up and effective.
- We are taking concrete steps to enhance patient safety in maternity and neonatal care nationwide by setting up a special data taskforce under NHS England. The data taskforce will co-ordinate a series of data projects which aim to make sure the right data will be used in the right way to identify and support trusts to improve outcomes for patients.
- Working with relevant bodies, we are investigating ways to better train doctors in training, improving teamworking in maternity and neonatal care.
- We require Trusts to ensure proper representation of maternity care on their boards.
What are you doing to boost recruitment and retention of midwives, nurses and wider staff working in maternity or neonatal care?
- We have committed to expanding midwifery training places by 3,650 over four years.
- Our first-ever NHS Long Term Workforce Plan, backed by over £2.4 billion, will deliver the biggest training expansion in NHS history. Over the next 15 years, it aims to recruit and retain hundreds of thousands more staff, including in maternity services.
- In January 2021, we announced a £500,000 fund for Maternity Leadership Training specifically dedicated to NHS maternity and neonatal leaders.
- We have invested £6 million to create a national support service for critical care staff and to support the development of wellbeing and psychological training.