NHS maternity staff will benefit from a further £3 million to improve the safety of the women and babies they care for, the Patient Safety Minister has announced.
The funding will support the RCOG, RCM and THIS Institute to deliver the second phase of a programme to reduce brain injuries at birth, which can have a devastating impact on babies and their families.
The first phase, announced in July 2021 included nearly £2 million to develop tools and training to monitor and respond to a baby’s wellbeing during labour, and manage complications with babies’ positioning during caesarean sections.
As part of the first phase, over 500 healthcare professionals and over 140 women and birth partners were consulted. Nearly all healthcare professionals surveyed agreed there should be a national approach to monitoring babies during labour, adopted by all NHS Trusts. Women and their birth partners called for better information, clear communication and involvement in decision-making.
Under today’s announcement, the RCOG, in partnership with the Royal College of Midwives and The Healthcare Improvement Studies Institute at the University of Cambridge (THIS Institute), will develop a national programme to roll out tools and training products. It will also seek to address workplace culture factors, such as ensuring midwives and obstetricians are working together to deliver safe care. For example:
the development and testing of national tools to monitor and identify any deterioration in the baby’s health during childbirth;
training for midwives and doctors focusing on teamwork, cooperation and positive working relationships, alongside technical skills, is being developed and pilot tested;
a strategy to improve national databases to help identify what enables excellent care, bringing together CQC reports and published data on national brain injury rates; and
a childbirth safety culture toolkit to be developed and piloted which will include a new approach to ensure the whole system learns from good practice and mistakes.
Patient Safety Minister Maria Caulfield said:
Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:
Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said:
Professor Mary Dixon-Woods, Director of The Healthcare Improvement Studies Institute, said:
Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, Chief Midwifery Officer for England, said:
Due to be freely available to NHS Trusts across the country next year, the tool will calculate the number of obstetricians at all grades required locally and nationally to provide a safe, personalised maternity service within the context of the wider workforce.
The programme will help achieve the government’s ambition to make the NHS the best place in the world to give birth and halve the rate of brain injury during or soon after birth by 2025. NHS England is investing £95 million, announced earlier this year, to deliver 1,200 midwives and 100 consultant obstetricians.