Maternity Services In England: Department of Health

HC 794, Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General, Session 2013-14

Author:
National Audit Office (NAO)
Publisher:
TSO (The Stationery Office)

Since the Department of Health's 2007 'Maternity Matters' strategy, there has been improvement in maternity services; however, according to the report 'Maternity Services In England: Department of Health (794)' there is a wide variation of performance between Trusts.

The Department did not fully consider the implications of delivering its ambitions and has failed to demonstrate that it satisfactorily considered the achievability and affordability of implementing the strategy. Nor has it monitored national progress against it.

In 2011, one in 133 babies was stillborn or died within several days of birth. The mortality rate has fallen over time but comparisons with the other UK nations suggest there is scope for further improvement. Trusts paid 482 million for maternity clinical negligence cover in 2012-13 which equates to around a fifth of spending on maternity services. The level of consultant presence has substantially improved but over half of maternity units (including all of the largest units) do not meet recommended levels.

The NHS is also not meeting the recognised benchmark of one midwife to 29.5 births. The Government has commissioned more places to study midwifery, but it is unclear whether these will be enough. Meeting the benchmark would require around 2,300 additional midwives nationally.

In terms of choosing the place of birth, 79% of women are currently within a 30 minute drive of both an obstetric and midwifery-led unit, compared with 59% in 2007. However, choice is restricted where units have to close because of a lack of physical capacity or midwives.

Over a quarter of units closed for half a day or more between April and September 2012.

Extent 45 pages ISBN 9780102987010
Size A4 Price £16.00
Format Paperback Published 08 Nov 2013
Availability Colour copy: 3 - 5 days Availability help (opens in new window) Delivery Delivery options and charges
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