Sands has responded to a wide-ranging report by the Health and Social Care Committee on maternity safety in England.

The report finds improvements in maternity services have been too slow, with the CQC’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals reporting evidence of a ‘defensive culture’, ‘dysfunctional teams’ and ‘safety lessons not learned’.

Professor Ted Baker told the inquiry that more than a third of CQC ratings for maternity services identified requirements to improve safety, larger than in any other specialty.

MPs recommend urgent action to address staffing shortfalls in maternity services, with staffing numbers identified as the first and foremost essential building block in providing safe care.

Sands has welcomed the report and is urging the Government to act on its recommendations.

Babies should not be at a higher risk of death simply because of their parents’ postcode, ethnicity or income. We welcome today’s Health and Social Care Select Committee Report on the safety of maternity services in England.

We wholeheartedly agree that the Government as a whole should introduce a target to end the disparity in maternal and neonatal outcomes between different groups, and put a strategy in place to achieve this. However, in order to fully understand the issue and develop a successful strategy, in depth investigations are needed into the deaths of babies from different groups.

We welcome NHS England funding for a confidential enquiry into deaths of Black and Black British babies, and we urge them to do the same for Asian and Asian British babies this year. This must be the foundation for a full programme of confidential enquiries to include all groups where the rate of baby deaths is higher.

- Clea Harmer, Chief Executive, Sands

Health and Social Care Committee’s Report’s key conclusions and recommendations:

  • Urgent action necessary to address staffing shortfalls in maternity services
  • Increase budget for maternity services by a minimum of £200-350m per annum with immediate effect
  • Government as a whole to introduce a target to end the disparity in maternal and neonatal outcomes with a clear timeframe for achieving that target
  • Reform litigation to award compensation for maternity cases based on whether an incident was avoidable rather than a requirement to prove clinical negligence

Visit the Health and Social Care Committee website for more information.

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