Research reveals maternity units not meeting safety standards

According to research by the BBC, more than half of English maternity units are failing to meet safety standards.

According to statistics from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), 7 per cent of units pose a high risk of avoidable harm and 48 per cent require improvement.

The BBC analysed the CQC safety ratings for 137 maternity units in England for September 2022. The research found that nine of the units were given an inadequate rating for safety, the lowest possible rating. 62 units required improvement to reduce risk to mothers and babies and ensure legal requirements on safety are met. None of the units received and outstanding safety rating, which demonstrates a comprehensive safety system is in place.

The CQC has changed its approach to inspections, so comparisons to previous years are difficult. However, in December 2016, 50 per cent of maternity and gynaecology units had good safety ratings. Now, that figure is 45 per cent.

Victoria Vallance, the CQC's director of secondary care said: "We are worried. We are concerned."

"We have not seen the pace of improvement consistently, nationally, that we would hope and expect to see across maternity services."

Royal College of Midwives chief executive Gill Walton said: "Every time there's an inquiry, there's a flurry of 'we're going to do this, this and this'. And then it falls off the agenda."

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