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Women in childbirth exposed to unacceptable risks

View profile for Judith Thomas-Whittingham
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Shortages of staff, a rising birth rate, lack of training and inadequate equipment has meant that fourteen NHS trusts have significantly raised baby death rates which are up to twice the national average. An over-stretched and under-resourced service is putting mothers and babies in danger, experts have warned.
 
The Royal College of Midwives claim 4,500 extra midwives are needed to deliver a safe, high-quality service. The dangers were initially highlighted by the death of 27 year old mother Sareena Ali and her daughter in January, following an emergency Caesarean at Queen’s Hospital, Romford, Essex. Sareena suffered a ruptured womb which caused a heart attack after being left for two hours without being checked on.
 
Queen’s Hospital is part of Barking, Havering and Redbridge NHS Trust, which is one of three trusts issued with improvement notices after inspections had revealed serious lapses in their maternity care.
 
The 14 NHS Trusts with high baby death rates which are causing great concern about their safety are highlighted in a report by the Centre for Maternal and Child Enquiries, but have not been named. The report stated that more than nine out of ten women who died from pre-eclampsia received inadequate care.
 
There has been a rising birth-rate, up by 19 percent in 10 years, however there has been a failure to ensure staff and resources are able to keep pace, with only a 12 percent increase in midwife numbers.
 
A study which took place in February found that of 94 babies who died during child-birth in 2008 – 09, 35 of those received sub-standard care and their deaths might have been avoided. The West Midlands Perinatal Institute report stated that the maternity service was overstretched and understaffed.
 
Professor Jason Gardosi, its director, said, “Many midwives were working in a very stretched service which did not allow them to provide the level of care they wanted. In many cases this led to a series of errors and ultimately to perinatal loss.”
 
The Care Quality Commission has found that one in five women were left alone during labour and sent home without support or advice on feeding their baby, and fewer were also offered antenatal classes.
 
If you believe that you have received treatment which was below a reasonable standard and would like to make a claim, we have a dedicated team of clinical negligence solicitors who would be happy to help you. You can call us for initial advice now on 0844 245 6602.
 
By clinical negligence specialist, Adam Pennington
 

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