The Department of Health has today confirmed that, following a number of high profile maternity unit investigations, which include those at East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust and Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Foundation Trust, £2 million will be given to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) so that investigations can be made into patient safety across the UK’s NHS maternity services.
The aim of this funding is to allow experts at the RCOG to research improved best practice methods for recognising distress during labour and responding to these scenarios to prevent the risk of death or babies being born in challenging circumstances with life altering injuries.
Following this initial investment, a further £449,000 will be provided to enable safe staffing levels to be calculated for maternity services; it is intended that this money will be used to develop a workforce planning tool specifically for this purpose.
Denise Stephens, a Partner in the Thames Valley Clinical Negligence team, who specialises in managing claims relating to cerebral palsy and other birth injuries commented as follows:
“The Department of Health’s announcement today is fantastic news. I sincerely hope that the government’s investment will lead to an improvement in patient safety due to improved practice. The more that can be done to prevent these incredibly distressing outcomes, the better. I know that this will come as good news to my many clients who desperately want changes and improvements to be made so that other parents do not have to go through the pain and sadness they have suffered”.
The Aims of the Programme
The minister for Maternity Safety, Nadine Dorries spoke today about the aims of the programme and her determination to ensure that as many mums as possible go home with healthy babies.
The programme will investigate how warning signs can be identified at an earlier stage in order to prevent babies from suffering life changing brain injuries or death. It also aims to ensure that maternity staff are placed correctly so that they may both learn from one another and provide a safe and positive environment for expectant mothers and babies. It is anticipated that this investment will help to deliver on the ambition of halving the 2010 rates of stillbirth, neonatal and maternal death and brain injuries that occur during or shortly after birth by 2025.
Denise Stephens further commented:
“The number of deaths and serious injuries caused to mothers and babies has to be reduced and I sincerely hope that this programme will have the desired outcome. I support any action that can be taken to avoid and reduce these sad and tragic outcomes”.