National quality standards for women during pregnancy and labour

Additional national quality standards have been put into place for the care of women during pregnancy and labour for those with existing and ongoing medical conditions. The standards published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) seek to ensure all women receive the same level of quality care and to help minimise the risk to mother and baby and to reduce the number of birth injury claims as a result.


The standard introduced by NICE relates to women with an existing medical condition such as heart disease or those that have experienced obstetric complications or a medical emergency such as sepsis who therefore need additional medical support. They aim to provide a consistent level of service to these individuals throughout the intrapartum period. The recommendations centre around five individual statements focused on enabling individuals to be involved in their care, regardless of their medical condition. It is hoped that by seeking the involvement of individuals throughout their pregnancy and labour it may improve the overall patient experience as well as the outcome for both mother and baby and therefore reduce the number of people seeking birth injury compensation.

The five statements are:

Statement 1 – Pregnant women with existing medical conditions or obstetric complications should be involved in the development and review of their individual intrapartum care plan

Statement 2 – Pregnant women with existing medical conditions should be cared for by a multidisciplinary team that can access expertise in managing medical conditions in pregnancy and led by a named healthcare professional

Statement 3 – If a pregnant woman is known to have heart disease, they should have their cardiovascular risk regularly assessed during pregnancy and the intrapartum period

Statement 4 – Pregnant women in labour with sepsis should have an immediate review by a senior clinician able to make a decision and antibiotics administered within a one-hour period

Statement 5 – Pregnant women who are in about but have had no antenatal care, should have an obstetric assessment and medical examination as well as an assessment of their medical, psychological and social history

Together it is hoped that the above statements can provide more comprehensive care to those during the intrapartum period and compliments the NHS Long Term Plan’s target to achieve 50% reductions in stillbirth, maternal mortality, neonatal mortality and serious brain injury by 2025. It is hoped that by outlining standards for those groups that may be at higher risk during the intrapartum period the scope for any medical negligence is reduced and the number of midwife claims diminishes.

These new standards sit alongside a number of existing standards relating to the care of women and babies during labour and pregnancy. Together it is hoped that these standards can provide a more consistent level of care by ensuring all healthcare providers adhere to the same guidelines and best practice and are well equipped to deal with whatever medical situation arises and may contribute towards a demise in medical negligence claims as a result.

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