The state of maternity services in England

The Picker Institute have published a new report; “The state of Maternity Services in England,” which focuses on the meaning of maternity care and analyses the main characteristics of maternity services in England. The report, written by Giuseppe Paparella, Policy Officer, outlines the broader implications of changing quality in maternity care settings. Suggestions are included for further actions and policy measures needed to improve the quality of care in English maternity services.

Key highlights

Child birth is without doubt one hospital experience that every user hopes will be unforgettable, and one where providing a person centred, family friendly experience is key. Perhaps of all healthcare services areas, maternity care is one that, comparatively speaking, people are more likely to actively choose because it not only offers the right care, but the right experience.

However, evidence from the NHS Maternity Survey shows a need for improvement in several aspects of maternity services:

  • During the period December 2013 to May 2015 almost half of safety assessments in inspections by Care Quality Commission were either “inadequate” (7%) or “requiring improvement” (41%)
  • As reported by the most recent NHS Maternity Survey these trends persist to some extent: according to recent findings, only 57% of women said their midwife definitely asked them how they were feeling emotionally during antenatal visits.
  • Similarly, just 54% of women giving birth for the first time felt they were definitely given enough information about emotional changes which may be experienced after the birth.

Effective service user involvement, a pillar of person centred care, is not always being achieved – particularly in terms of postnatal care – and there remains significant room for improvement in some key components of maternal patient experience.

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