Statement in Response to Health and Social Care Committee Report on Safety of Maternity Services in England
BAPM welcomes the report from the Health and Social Care Committee. This is an important issue for maternity and neonatal care in the NHS and BAPM is keen to support improvements which could impact positively on outcomes for both mother and baby.
We applaud the recommendation for additional investment in maternity services but request that additional investment is extended to all aspects of perinatal care including care of sick newborns on neonatal units and well but vulnerable newborns in other care settings. Greater investment in identifying and implementing learning at a national level highlighted from national, local and regional neonatal care reviews for neonatal deaths, prematurity and brain injury is required if we are to achieve the targets set.
Whilst there are Obstetric and Midwifery safety champions there is no national safety champion for Neonatology. We strongly recommend that a national Neonatal safety champion is appointed to lead on key initiatives including the prevention of deterioration of the well but vulnerable newborn and learning identified from national mortality reports.
A key aspect highlighted in this report is the need for maternity services to have "the right number of staff, in the right place, at the right time and with the right skills". This pledge must be extended to neonatal units, allowing all sick and significantly preterm babies to be cared for in the right neonatal unit, with the right number of staff, at the right time and with the right skills providing support to parents. The outcome for all babies can be improved by good care throughout the perinatal journey including the neonatal period and we believe that staffing neonatal units to achieve BAPM and NCCR standards for nursing, medical and allied health professionals is key to improving neonatal morbidity and further reducing neonatal mortality.
It is clear that there are significant regional variations in neonatal mortality rates. Improvements should address these inequalities with research to understand the reasons for them. We commend all efforts to address the challenges of socio-economic deprivation, reduce inequities within our society and improve access to effective maternity and neonatal health care for all.