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Safety must be the number one priority in maternity care, say leading Royal Colleges

News 24 July 2020

The Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have reiterated that the safety of women and babies in maternity services must be the number one priority of all care, as they welcome the announcement of the House of Commons Health & Social Care Select Committee inquiry into maternity safety.


Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:


“All women and their babies deserve a safe birth, irrespective of location, ethnicity or age. While the majority of outcomes for pregnant women and their babies are positive, sadly in a small number of cases women and their babies do not receive high-quality care.

“Statistics show, for example, that black women are five times more likely to die in pregnancy, childbirth or in the six-month postpartum period compared with white women and the risk for Asian women is twice as high when compared with white women. This is unacceptable.

“Behind every shocking statistic is a woman and her baby who has died or suffered a poor health outcome. We have a duty to ensure that no woman or her family suffers unnecessarily and that we address inequity in the quality of maternity care, where it exists.

“The solutions to preventing unnecessary harm require a collaborative effort between Government, clinicians and women. We need to ensure that all obstetricians and midwives have the best training and support throughout their career in order to provide high-quality care. We need to better understand and tackle health disparities where they exist, and we need to ensure that maternity services have adequate resources, in terms of staff and equipment. Most of all, we must continue to learn from mistakes, improve services and support women and their families who have suffered.

“This inquiry is an important step to doing just that. The RCOG continues to be absolutely committed to improving maternity care across the UK.”

Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said:

“It is a tragedy when things go wrong for women, babies and their families, but it is a positive step to talk about failures and find out why they happen. We must strive to learn from these terrible events so that we can do everything in our power to stop them happening again. We have also got to learn when things are being done well and share that experience and knowledge.

“Delivering the safest possible care must be the fundamental basis of everything health professionals do. They also need the support of the Government and healthcare commissioners to ensure staff and services are properly resourced.”

Ends

Notes to Editors

To contact the RCOG press office call 020 7045 6773 or email pressoffice@rcog.org.uk and the RCM media office call 020 7312 3456 or email media@rcm.org.uk

The Inquiry opens today and the RCM and RCOG will be submitting joint evidence to the inquiry. Visit the website for more information on the inquiry.

About the RCM
The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences and online resources.

About the RCOG
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is a medical charity that champions the provision of high quality women’s healthcare in the UK and beyond. It is dedicated to encouraging the study and advancing the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. It does this through postgraduate medical education and training and the publication of clinical guidelines and reports on aspects of the specialty and service provision.