Home Health Maternity funding boost after record numbers of tragic maternal deaths

Maternity funding boost after record numbers of tragic maternal deaths

Britain’s maternity services are to be boosted with a £35million investment, the government announced today.

The cash has been earmarked to fund training for “thousands of extra midwifery staff” and to cover the cost of extra midwives to improve maternity services. Nine million pounds is earmarked to prevent avoidable brain injuries in childbirth.

The investment, announced as part of the Spring Budget, and to be released over the next three years will also be used “to ensure maternity services listen to and act on women’s experiences to improve care.”

The news follows a recent House of Lords report which highlighted “ongoing problems” including “criticisms on maternity staffing and quality of care” in England’s maternity services.

It also comes alongside new data showing the number of women dying in pregnancy or soon after labour has increased to its highest for 20 years.

Between 2020-2022, 272 women died of causes directly or indirectly related to their pregnancy in the UK – 13.41 deaths per 100,000 women.

Even when excluding maternal deaths from Covid between this period – 11.54 deaths per 100,000 women – the figure is higher than 2017-19 of 8.79 deaths per hundred thousand.

The highest increase was in cases of blood clots, with Covid 19, heart disease, mental ill health and sepsis also among the extra deaths.

There have been several attempts to improve maternity care set up following an inquiry in 2015 into failures that led to the deaths of babies at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust. This was followed by similar investigations into baby deaths at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust and East Kent Hospitals.

In 2019, the NHS said it was committed to reducing the number of fatalities by 50 percent by 2025.

Health and Social Care Secretary Victoria Atkins said: “I want every mother to feel safe when giving birth to their baby.

“Improving maternity care is a key cornerstone of our Women’s Health Strategy and with this investment we are delivering on that priority – more midwives, specialist training in obstetric medicine and pushing to improve how women are listened to in our healthcare system.

“£35 million is going directly to improving the safety and care in our maternity wards and will move us closer to our goal of making healthcare faster, simpler and fairer for all.”

Minister for the Women’s Health Strategy, Maria Caulfield, said: “This extra funding will help clinicians deliver the best care for expecting mothers and improve maternity safety.

“Crucially, as part of this investment, we’re also rolling out a training programme to prevent avoidable brain injuries in childbirth.”

However critics said the money was too little to transform maternity services.

Professor Carl Heneghan, Director of Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence based Medicine welcomed the money but said: “Maternal death should be a ‘never event’ therefore any rise is highly concerning. An investigation into why these deaths are increasing should be mandatory.”

He added: “35 million pounds won’t change the direction of travel in maternity services. Instead of giving money we should be looking into why there are problems and evaluating what is working and what isn’t.”


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