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RCOG responds to APPG Birth Trauma inquiry report and the Saving Babies Lives’ progress report

13 May 2024

This week, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Birth Trauma launched a new inquiry report and the second ‘Saving Babies Lives’ progress report was published by the Sands and Tommy’s Joint Policy Unit.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) welcomes the APPG Birth Trauma Report, which highlights some of the key challenges and instrumental areas in which progress can be made. The RCOG submitted both written and oral evidence to help support the report's development.

Overall the report highlights several key themes. Including failure to listen to women, lack of informed consent, poor communication, lack of pain relief, lack of kindness, breastfeeding problems, postnatal care, the impact of COVID and medical negligence. The report includes many first-hand birth trauma experiences from women and highlights many of the challenges that currently face maternity services and perinatal care in the NHS.

The College supports the call to recruit, train and crucially retain more midwives, obstetricians and anaesthetists in the report. The workforce across the health system also needs to be able to meet the needs of perinatal women and their families this includes general practice support for postnatal checks and appropriately trained interpreters.

One key focus of the report was obstetric anal sphincter injury (OASI), also known as a severe perineal tear, which can occur during vaginal birth. To combat this the RCOG, with the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), has developed the OASI Care Bundle- a comprehensive set of interventions aimed at reducing the incidences of severe tears and improving outcomes for women. The success of the OASI Care Bundle is evident, with piloting taking place in 16 maternity units and a decrease in OASI rates by 20%. The RCOG fully supports the report’s recommendation that the OASI Care Bundle be rolled out nationally and implemented, with adequate staff training across all hospital trusts. This would be a significant step towards reducing the risk of injuries in childbirth.

The RCOG also echoes the report’s calls for the implementation of NHS England’s Perinatal Pelvic Health service specification in maternity units and would support further exploratory work around linking pelvic floor health clinics with maternal mental health services, as suggested in the report.

Dr Ranee Thakar, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “The College welcomes this important report from the APPG, which highlights the very moving stories of women who have been affected by birth trauma. Birth trauma is often overlooked, despite its life-changing impact so we sincerely thank the APPG for its work to shine a light on this difficult yet important topic, and commend the bravery of the women who shared their stories.

“As the stories of women affected starkly show, physical birth trauma can also have a significant effect on a woman’s mental health and well-being. Providing services in a joined-up way would potentially make it easier for women to get the holistic support they need.”

Also published this week, the ‘Saving Babies Lives’ report found that progress in reducing rates of stillbirth and neonatal death is stalling and there has been little progress in reducing preterm births. The RCOG fully supports the call by Sands and Tommy’s for meaningful action to end the persistent and widening inequalities in rates of pregnancy and baby loss by ethnicity and deprivation, driven by a Government ambition.  

Dr Ranee Thakar, said: “The RCOG is committed to supporting progress in these critical areas, working alongside partners including Tommy’s and Sands. The College’s clinical guidelines and professional development courses and events also support maternity teams offer safe, personalised and compassionate clinical care. However, the inescapable reality is maternity services are under incredible strain. Sufficient, dedicated government funding for maternity services, and a cross-government department focus on tackling inequalities in maternity outcomes, is urgently needed.”


  • Policy and governance
  • Pregnancy and birth