CQC survey highlights disparities in maternity care provision

A national survey conducted by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) highlights concerns around the quality of postnatal care and potential for birth injury claims that may arise as a result.

The survey conducted by the CQC captures the feedback of more than 23,000 women who gave birth during February 2021 – in the height of another national lockdown due to the ongoing COVID pandemic. The survey covers all aspects of maternity care – ranging from the first initial midwife appointment through to labour and birth and the care that they received afterwards. The survey provides one of the most comprehensive pictures of maternity care provisions across the country and a number of valuable insights as a result.

One key positive takeaway from the survey is that 83% of respondents felt that they were given enough support for their mental health during their pregnancy. This is particularly important given that women were pregnant and giving birth during the pandemic at a time when there were restrictions around visitors in hospitals and limitations on appointments. This also indicates that midwives and medical professionals were aware of the potential impact of ongoing restrictions on patients’ wellbeing and mental health.

Whilst the consideration towards patient’s mental health was positive, unfortunately a number of other factors within the survey showed a less positive side to the provision of maternity care. This includes a fifth of respondents saying that they were not offered any choices about where to have their baby and the majority of respondents (62%) said that they were not given any choice about where their postnatal care could take place.

Additionally, only half of woman surveyed felt that they completely had the opportunity to ask questions about labour and birth if they wanted to. This means half of the respondents felt unable to ask the questions they wanted to, which could lead to increased anxiety and concern over labour and birth. Additionally, this could mean that respondents felt unable to voice any concerns they had and may present missed opportunities for issues to be rectified, which could compound the issue and lead to suffering. In these instances, a midwife negligence claim may be sought.

Shockingly, only 65% of women said that they were always able to get a member of staff to help them if they needed it during labour and birth. This suggests that 35% of respondents struggled to help get staff support, potentially during critical moments. A lack of staff availability has been shown to directly correlate with the occurrence of birth injury, and therefore we may see an increase in birth injury claims as a result.

Similar findings were also shown for post-birth care, with only 60% of respondents saying they definitely received advice and help from health professionals about their baby’s health and progress if they needed it. This could mean that there was a lack of support for any issue that may arise both with the mother or baby at a time when there are potential complications such as infections, debilitating health conditions. Where an injury or illness arises as a result of negligent care a birth injury compensation claim may be sought.

Whilst we must appreciate that the survey took place during a time when the NHS was dealing with an unprecedented health crisis which would have an impact on issues such as being able to have a partner present during appointments and even birth, however, a lack of choice regarding the provision of care and a lack of staff availability can lead to serious issues developing. Where an injury arises as a result of negligent care, a birth injury claim may be sought as a result. This is often the last resort for those who have unfortunately suffered the consequences of poor care.

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