Harrowing findings in the parliamentary report on birth trauma

At Freeths, we deal with hundreds of enquiries relating to maternity negligence every year.

A common thread in the experiences of the women we represent is that they feel ignored by the professionals caring for them and that they have not been given the information needed to make informed decisions.

Our clients also often experience a lack of transparency when trying to understand what has gone wrong and the duty of candour expected from our health service is frequently lacking.

The findings of the report prepared by The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Birth Trauma and published yesterday are all too familiar. 

The report

The inquiry exposed a fragmented system, no longer fit to care for those it was designed to serve. 

The inquiry was wide ranging and looked at the state of maternity services up and down the country. 1311 written submissions from parents, 92 from professional bodies, charities, campaign organisations and individuals working in maternity were examined and 7 oral evidence sessions were carried out on different themes. 

The scale of the issues in maternity care are laid bare in the report. The enquiry “uncovered a pattern of poor maternity care across the country, resulting in many women being deeply traumatised” and the report is a call to action to “both reduce the incidence of harm and to make sure women and their partners are better supported when harm occurs”.

The report sets out recommendations for improvements in maternity care and suggests a good maternity service would include the following elements: 

  1. Access to antenatal education for all women to include information to help women make individualised informed risk based decisions 
  2. A culture of listening to women, not a default assumption that they are being overly anxious in expressing concerns 
  3. Evidence based care, knowledge sharing and standardised practice from unit to unit 
  4. No procedure or intervention should be carried out without informed consent, except in emergency situations 
  5. All units should be properly staffed, based on an ethos of cooperation and a be safe working environment for staff 
  6. All women should have access to good quality post natal care
  7. There should be transparency and accountability when things do go wrong 
  8. Partners ought to be kept informed 
  9. No patient or staff member should be subjected to racist attitudes and cultural differences should be respected 
  10. Trauma informed care should be standard and support and treatment should be planned with any previous trauma in mind 
  11. Women and partners suffering with trauma symptoms ought to have access to adequate support after birth. 

Our clinical negligence team echo the call to the UK government to implement these recommendations in full. 

We can and must do better, but for meaningful change to happen in our maternity services there must be a unified approach to improving the system.

If you have concerns about the maternity treatment which you or a loved one has received, then please contact our maternity negligence solicitors for free initial advice.

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