The MBRRACE-UK Confidential Enquiry into intrapartum-related perinatal deaths shows that, although the rate of such deaths has halved in the UK during the last 2 decades, 80% of such deaths were associated with one or more failures in the delivery of care during labour and delivery or soon after birth. In addition problems with staffing and capacity were identified as affecting the safety of care in at least 25% of these deaths.
Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, has set out plans for a Maternity Safety Strategy which includes an ambition to halve the risk of stillbirth, neonatal death and brain injury by 2025. In addition he has extended this to include a commitment to reduce rates of prematurity.
BAPM welcomes these commitments but recognises that they cannot be achieved without investment in services. The highlighting of potentially avoidable factors in baby deaths in the MBRRACE-UK report, and unwarranted variation in measures of quality of care in the latest reports of the National Maternity and Perinatal Audit (NMPA) and the National Neonatal Audit Programme (NNAP) report, show that there is a lot of work still to be done to ensure the highest quality and safety of services. Bliss rightly calls for an equal focus on improving care and safety in neonatal units as in maternity units. BAPM will work to ensure that the Neonatal Transformation Review and the concurrent implementation of the Maternity Services Review (Better Births) in England and the implementation of the Maternity and Neonatal Services Review in Scotland (Better Start) help to reduce these gaps.