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RCOG responds to HMP Styal report

11 Jan 2022

The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) has published today the independent investigation into a stillbirth at HMP Styal on 18 June 2020.

The investigation found that a woman prisoner gave birth to a still-born baby in a prison toilet, without specialist medical assistance or pain relief.

The Ombudsman said that she was satisfied that prison staff did not miss any obvious signs that Ms B was pregnant during her three and a half months at Styal, but that there were missed opportunities to identify that Ms B needed urgent clinical attention in the hours before she gave birth.

Last year, the RCOG published it's policy position statement on maternity care for women in prison in England and Wales.

In response to the investigation, Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “It is very upsetting to hear about the stillbirth of a baby at HMP Styal and our sympathies go out to the baby’s mother and wider family. The report by the Prison and Probation Ombudsman identify the opportunities that were missed in caring for the mother and highlight major failures in the system which need to be urgently addressed.

“The investigation found gaps in prison nurse training about reproductive health, long-acting reversible contraception and recognition of early labour. It’s vital all prisons implement the Government’s policy framework and that all staff in women’s prisons receive the right training to provide women with the information and support they need.

“Alongside strong links to the local midwifery team, all maternity services located near to a women’s prison should have a designated obstetrician with responsibility for ensuring high quality care for women in prison.  This is vital for ensuring women have access to the right professional when they need it.

 “We believe all women, regardless of their background or whether they are in prison, should have equal access to high-quality maternity and perinatal care at the right time. It is unacceptable that being in prison often leads to poorer maternal and neonatal outcomes.”


For media enquiries please contact the RCOG press office on +44 (0)7986 183167 or email .

Notes to editor

  • The PPO's report on HMP Styal can be read here.
  • The 'Pregnancy, MBUs and maternal separation in women’s prisons Policy Framework' can be viewed on the Government website.
  • The RCOG position statement on maternity care for women in prison in England and Wales can be read here.
  • Policy and governance
  • Pregnancy and birth