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Inquiry into maternity services

1st May 2007

The King’s Fund has announced it is to conduct an inquiry into the safety of maternity services in England.

The statement comes after a series of high-profile attacks on the quality of provision offered to women and their babies.  The year-long investigation will analyse the safety record of maternity services and assess where provision has improved as well as identifying areas of concern. The inquiry will also examine death rates and complications around pregnancy and birth and consider why these are higher for some of the most vulnerable groups and what can be done to tackle this.  A final report is expected in the autumn.

The inquiry will be chaired by Baroness O’Neill who is a senior figure in medical ethics and President of the British Academy.  She and her team hope to identify which areas are failing and why before putting together a series of recommendations for improvement. “This investigation is a vital opportunity to take an objective look at our maternity services, find out where things are going right, and work out why things may be going wrong,? she said.

The investigation comes just weeks after the government announced its maternity services reform, part of which promises to allow all women a choice of where to give birth.  The King's Fund is mainly concerned about safety levels for birthing women and particularly wants to identify why certain minority groups seem to receive a poorer standards of care.  King’s Fund Chief Executive Niall Dickson said, “We can do better and we need to understand the challenges the service is facing.

 

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