Maternity Report highlights tragedy.

The report from the All Party Parliamentary Group and the Birth Trauma Association published 13th May 2024 reveals nothing short of a national scandal and more importantly the tragic consequences for the tens of thousands of women and their families affected.

We know that approximately 30,000 of women giving birth – 4/5%- develop PTSD – and these are just the ones with a diagnosis!

Mental illness ranks as one of the leading causes of maternal deaths in this country yet this is not even remotely reflected in the resources allocated to it.

To hear of women not being listened to, believed or respected by the people caring for them is both disgraceful and shameful.

Pat Schan, a retired midwife and advocate for women comments
“this makes very uncomfortable reading but will lessons finally be learnt? There have been many well researched and informed reports on improving maternity services years so why have they not been implement? How have we ended up in this dire situation?

There has been a systematic failure of the Tory government to invest properly in training, staffing and retention which has brought us to this place. Labour wards are high pressurised places to work and newly qualified midwives are left to cope with ever increasing complex cases. Sickness levels due to stress are at the highest ever. Postnatal wards are chaotic and chronically understaffed, community midwifery visits cut to an absolute minimum and Health Visitors reduced to safeguarding monitors.

Today’s report also spared a few pages at the back to acknowledge the huge disparity in maternal outcomes in the UK, with ethnic minorities, socioeconomically deprived communities and “exceptionally vulnerable women”, including survivors of trauma such as domestic violence and sexual abuse, being the worst affected. The differential, discriminatory experiences of such marginalised groups, including implicit and explicit racism, further compounds the risk of PTSD for these women.  

The Royal College of Midwives in their statement today, called for, “the reinstatement of a Maternity Commissioner with accountability to the Prime Minster, this the College says is very much needed particularly as their remit would include a commitment to tackle inequalities in maternity care for Black, Asian and minority ethic women.”

The Socialist Health Association’s working group on maternal, newborn and child health works on policy responses to these issues. If you would like to contribute to this work, please contact rathiguha@hotmail.com

A incoming Labour government must take this report and implement its recommendations to the letter. There needs to be full accuntability.”

Blog by Pat Schan and Rathi Guhadasan, members of the SHA Central Council.

Further reading on racial injustice in maternity care:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-61497923

Further reading on safe staffing in maternity services: