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Government pledges extra funds to improve maternity safety

NHS maternity staff will benefit from a further £3 million to improve the safety of the women and babies they care for, the Patient Safety Minister has announced.

The funding will support the RCOG, RCM and THIS Institute to deliver the second phase of a programme to reduce brain injuries at birth, which can have a devastating impact on babies and their families. The first phase, announced in July 2021 included nearly £2 million to develop tools and training to monitor and respond to a baby’s wellbeing during labour, and manage complications with babies’ positioning during caesarean sections.

As part of the first phase, over 500 healthcare professionals and over 140 women and birth partners were consulted. Nearly all healthcare professionals surveyed agreed there should be a national approach to monitoring babies during labour, adopted by all NHS Trusts. Women and their birth partners called for better information, clear communication and involvement in decision-making.

Under the announcement, the RCOG, in partnership with the RCM and THIS Institute, will develop a national programme to roll out tools and training products. It will also seek to address workplace culture factors, such as ensuring midwives and obstetricians are working together to deliver safe care. For example:

  • the development and testing of national tools to monitor and identify any deterioration in the baby’s health during childbirth
  • training for midwives and doctors focusing on teamwork, co-operation and positive working relationships, alongside technical skills, is being developed and pilot tested
  • a strategy to improve national databases to help identify what enables excellent care, bringing together Care Quality Commission (CQC) reports and published data on national brain injury rates
  • a childbirth safety culture toolkit to be developed and piloted which will include a new approach to ensure the whole system learns from good practice and mistakes

Patient Safety Minister Maria Caulfield said: "I want every mother and baby to get the best possible care and start to life and am committed to supporting our dedicated NHS staff to make positive changes, backed by over £5 million of investment.

"The second phase of this vital programme will help us improve maternity care and prevent mothers and babies from suffering the trauma of a brain injury during birth."

Dr Edward Morris, President of the RCOG, said: "We are delighted that funding has been awarded to our collaboration to deliver phase 2 of the Avoiding Brain Injury in Childbirth (ABC) programme. By drawing on expertise from across the health sector, and listening to the experiences of women and their families, we are developing tools to support maternity units in providing the best possible care to pregnant women and their babies, and establish clear processes for effective fetal monitoring.

"Any event of avoidable brain injury is tragic, for the newborn, for the family, and for the midwives and obstetricians involved. All maternity staff want to ensure that both mother and baby have the best possible outcomes. The development of these approaches to monitor babies is key to supporting maternity staff to safely deliver babies. We are grateful to all the women and healthcare professionals who have been involved with the design of this national programme. This collaborative approach has provided us with a robust base on which to build as the programme enters the second stage."

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Upcoming Events

Arab Health 2022

Dubai World Trade Centre
24th - 27th January

Knowlex Infection Prevention & Control 2022

National Conference Centre, Birmingham
8th - 9th February

Central Sterilising Club 60th Anniversary Annual Scientific Meeting

Crowne Plaza, Bridge Foot, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 6YR
4th - 5th April

iM Med Decontamination Academy Spring Conference

Royal College of Physicians, London
11th May 2022

NPAG Theatres and Decontamination Conference

Coventry Building Society Arena
19th May 2022

EBME Expo 2022

Coventry Building Society Arena, Phoenix Way, Rowleys Green, Coventry CV6 6GE
28th - 29th June

Access the latest issue of Clinical Services Journal on your mobile device together with an archive of back issues.

Download the FREE Clinical Services Journal app from your device's App store

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