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Concerning report from RCM highlights crisis in maternity care

In a worrying report in the Guardian this week, the Royal College of Midwives has shared the results of a survey of midwives as to safety levels in NHS hospitals.

It reveals that 75 per cent of midwives consider current staffing levels on maternity wards are unsafe, putting at risk the lives of mothers and babies. Gill Walton, chief executive of the RCM, says that midwives have been 'pushed to the edge' by the failure of subsequent governments to properly invest in staffing and training and that the result is a very concerning gap of staff during most shifts.

She also says that the pressure is causing many midwives to consider leaving the profession, a situation made even worse by coronavirus because midwives are having to work so much overtime.

In a previous article, I highlighted the particular problems facing BAME women with maternity services. In response to the latest RCM report, Tinuke Awe, the co-founder of the black maternal health campaign Five X More, referred to the findings of a previous survey of black mothers which found 33 per cent did not feel confident that maternity staff were committed to ensuring they had a safe birth.

“Midwives play a key role in pregnancy and childbirth, and we know black women are five times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than white women,” Awe said.

Midwifery care is absolutely fundamental to keeping mothers and babies safe. It goes without saying that such a crisis on the maternity wards will result in mistakes in care which can lead to catastrophic birth injury including cerebral palsy and other brain injury.

While supporting families affected by problems with care highlighted in the report, the Fieldfisher medical negligence team continues to lobby for adequate funding to ensure midwives are properly trained and that staffing levels are within national guidelines.

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