Medical law experts welcome NHS move to improve maternity care

A review of UK maternity services which will assess current maternity care provision as well as make recommendations on how services should be developed to meet the changing needs of women and babies is to be led by Baroness Julia Cumberlege, it was announced this month.

Promised as part of the NHS Five Year Forward View, the review follows damning reports into maternity care at University Hospitals of Morcambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust published earlier this month.

The move has been welcomed by campaigners including leading medical law experts at Leigh Day, who say that comprehensive knowledge into care provision across the country will lead to a better understanding of what is needed to ensure that patient safety remains a priority.

Announced today as the chair of the review, Julia Cumberlege said that NHS England recognised the importance of the experience of childbirth to women, their partners and the new born child.

She said that despite a majority finding that the care they receive is good, this is a chance to ‘raise standards of safety, to innovate and to explore how maternity services can best meet the needs of today’, and an ‘opportunity for parents to shape the services they want professionals to deliver’.

The review is understood to be focused on assessing the level of care currently provided and the expectations of women and their families, as well as engaging with NHS citizen networks to gather ideas and solutions they have for improving maternity care.

Baroness Cumberlege said the team will travel widely in England to listen and to seek out and assess innovative models of care here and abroad.

Suzanne White, a partner in the medical law team at Leigh Day, said: “This review is a chance to change safety standards and work to meet the expectations of families having a baby.

“Recent reports exposing the failings of certain maternity units within the NHS have been cause for grave concern, but this is certainly a step in the right direction – and one step closer to ensuring transparency and the best service possible for all new and expecting mothers, and their families, across the country.”