Date Published: 18 July 2005

UK Healthcare Commission Report on Standards in Maternity Care

A new report by the Healthcare Commission (UK) has warned that the lives of some new mothers and babies are at risk from poor conditions in many maternity wards. The report indicated a wide range of contributory factors, including dirty toilets, a shortage of midwives and inadequate organisation in several of the wards examined.

These findings were published by the Healthcare Commission in advance of a broader report about the National Health Service (NHS), which is due to be made public on Monday 18th July.

Sir Ian Kennedy chaired this report and calls on all NHS trusts to to review their maternity services. Recent investigations for the present report revealed "huge differences" between the best and worst facilities. While stating that "Giving birth is probably safer now, in overall terms, than it ever was", lots of examples of both good and poor practice have been identified and it is argued that "there is too much poor practice that needs to be rooted out".

Health minister Liam Bryne (Labour) acknowledged that current services are"not yet good enough" and said an action plan was being drawn up.

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley (Conservative) said:

" These findings from the Healthcare Commission are deeply worrying.
...They show that despite increasing resources for the NHS, a lack of genuine reform means resources are wasted and services are not held accountable for the standards they meet and to the wishes of patients.
"

The commission's report to Members of Parliament (MPs) said bad management, rather than a lack of money, was at the root of the problems. The report into the broader NHS is expected to show that staff shortages, aged buildings, poor training and weak management are hitting standards.

Source: The Healthcare Commission (England, UK),
formerly at http://www.healthcarecommission.org.uk - website no-longer live.

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