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Insight

Parliament Square vigil calls on Government to address urgent crisis in maternity services

Samantha Critchley attended the rally inspired by a deep collective concern over maternity safety.

Samantha Critchley and her daughter at March for Midwives

It seems as though every month we read about failing maternity units across the country and I see daily the consequences of the harm suffered by my clients. An estimated 30,000 birthing people a year experience birth trauma in the UK, with up to 30 per cent of all service users rating their birth as traumatic. Meanwhile, studies show levels of mental health issues among midwives are distressingly high, including, extreme stress, anxiety, depression and PTSD.

Midwives Matter

Black women have a four times' higher risk and Asian women a two times' higher risk of dying in pregnancy than white women and are more likely to die during the childbearing year. Women living in the most deprived areas are almost three times more likely to die than those who live in the most affluent areas.

For every 30 newly qualified midwives, 29 are either leaving or never entering the workforce. 60 per cent of UK midwives are considering leaving the profession. More than 80% of those planning to leave cited inadequate staffing levels and more than 67 per cent said they were unhappy with the quality and safety of care they are currently able to deliver. The crisis is real and will only get worse without positive action.

Although I am a clinical negligence lawyer and specialise in birth injury and trauma claims, both sides have much in common:  

  • We feel passionately about safety of mothers and children and avoiding perinatal harm
  • We want vital funding to be in place for maternity services to support midwives to provide the level of service and care that they are trained to give and avoid that harm
  • We love the NHS and what it stands for when it works well
  • We want midwives and mothers to feel supported and valued

I stood with my daughter, who was born a short distance away in St Thomas' Hospital. She was delivered safely five years ago. I was supported by my Consultant Midwife who listened to my birth preferences. We spent well over an hour discussing the pros and cons of mode of delivery and ultimately I avoided birth trauma and my daughter is thriving. I am very grateful to the NHS for the support that I was given.

March with Midwives’ steering group said: “We call on the UK government to implement urgent crisis management and resources. Government promises are not being kept and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Maternity must take responsibility for their silence and call for immediate action."

Respect Midwives > Honour women > Protect Babies.

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