Shropshire Star

Maternity care in UK 'poor' says Staffordshire MP who thought she was going to die when giving birth

Maternity care has been branded "poor" in an inquiry led by a Midlands MP who said she thought she was going to die when she gave birth.

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A parliamentary inquiry into birth trauma is calling for a national plan to improve maternity care.

The all-party inquiry is led by Stafford's Conservative MP Theo Clarke, along with Labour MP Rosie Duffield.

Theo Clarke with her newborn baby

The report has found "poor care is all frequently tolerated as normal, and women are treated as an inconvenience".

Among the recommendations included in the report is the creation of a maternity commissioner reporting to the Prime Minister.

Ms Clarke, who pushed for the inquiry after revealing in Parliament that she felt she was going to die after giving birth in 2022, said: "We have listened to mums carefully and applaud their bravery in coming forward, sometimes with horrific testimony of how the system failed them and the mental, physical and economic cost of that failure.

"The raft of recommendations we make, especially the appointment of a maternity commissioner, are all designed to end the postcode lottery on maternity services."

She later told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think what came through very strongly (in the inquiry) was that there does seem to be a postcode lottery for maternity care in this country, and that’s something that I don’t think is acceptable, that depending on where you live, you will literally be offered a different level of care in terms of how you’re given support during childbirth and afterwards.”

Describing her own experience, she added: “I remember pressing the emergency button after I’d come out of surgery and a lady came in and said she couldn’t help me, said it wasn’t her baby, wasn’t her problem and walked out and left me there – so we need to make sure there are safe levels of staffing.”

NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard said the experiences of more than 1,300 women who have evidence to the inquiry were "simply not good enough".

Stafford MP Theo Clarke has led today's report

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins said she was "determined to improve the quality and consistency of care for women throughout pregnancy, birth and the critical months that follow".

In January, she shared her personal experience of the "darker corners" of the NHS after giving birth as a patient with type one diabetes.

"I want to reform our NHS and care system to make it faster, simpler and fairer for all of us and that includes women," she said.

The report comes following a number of failings identified in the NHS maternity services.

The Ockenden Inquiry into maternity care at Shrewsbury & Telford NHS Trust found that hundreds of families were failed in its care.

Donna Ockenden

Led by expert Donna Ockenden, the review found more than 200 cases where mothers died, where babies were stillborn, or there was neonatal death, had significant or major concerns – and where different care would have resulted in a different outcome.

Another 106 cases involving cerebral palsy and brain damage were found to have the same concern. With better care likely to have led to a better outcome.

The 2022 review, which included cases as early as 1973 and as recent as 2020 – but mainly covered the period from 2000 to 2019 – outlined 60 actions needed to be taken by the trust to improve its care.