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Maternal deaths linked to poor care

25th July 2011

A report has found that the deaths of 17 women in hospital over the last 18 months could have been averted by better maternity care.

pregnancy

The health service in London requested that an independent body carry out an investigation following an increase in the amount of maternal deaths which resulted in the death rate for the first half of 2009 exceeding the total for the previous year. 

The report found 17 deaths out of 42 could have been prevented by better care. It also said that hospitals' inquiries into deaths were not "accurate or objective" enough.

From the 42 mothers who died, half came from "deprived" backgrounds and two thirds were from black and ethnic minorities. 

The health service's chief nurse said the report had thrown light on problems in care in maternity services across the NHS. 

Professor Trish Morris-Thompson, who also practices as a midwife with NHS London, said: "There were a number of opportunities to prevent death occurring and because of that, we have taken enough action across the organisations in London and we will continue to do so to put right those actions."

Professor Morris-Thompson added that while "less than optimum care was given and death did occur, however, in the context of 200,000 births during that period a lot of women were cared for". 

 

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