Maternity services staff should receive more support to provide ‘person-centred care’ to improve women’s experiences of giving birth and caring for a baby, according to a new report.
The report on the state of maternity services in England pulls together recent research and NHS data, and was published by the Picker Institute Europe - a charity that campaigns for quality health and social care.
‘Childbirth is one hospital experience that every user hopes will be unforgettable,’ the report stated. While highlighting progress in maternity care, the report also emphasised a need to make services ‘safer, more personalised, and more family friendly’.
Almost half of official safety assessments of maternity services from December 2013 to May 2015 revealed shortcomings according to the report. During this period, 7% of services were rated ‘inadequate’ for safety by the Care Quality Commission, and 41% required improvement.
The report found there were gaps in information and support for women, particularly regarding postnatal care. It highlighted that continuity of care was important, and that women who saw the same midwife for each appointment tended to have better experiences.
‘While there will be occasions where people need to see different midwives due to changes in staffing, personal circumstances, or preferences, it is important for as many women as possible to be given the opportunity to see the same midwife throughout their maternity care if they want to,’ the report stated.
To improve women’s experience of care, the report stressed the importance of listening to the views of women, their families and maternity staff, and to ensure the right support for midwives and other health professionals.