A report published by NHS England has called on staff in maternity units to learn from mistakes that have been identified by auditors, with a view to improving care provided in the units. It was found that over 124 thousand reports of incidents in maternity units were submitted in 2015. The figures reveal an average of around 340 mistakes were being made daily in maternity units. These include incorrect epidurals being administered, foetal heartbeats not being monitored correctly or caesareans being carried out too late in cases of emergency deliveries. It was found that 351 women experienced serious harm last year, and 151 women and newly born babies died on maternity wards.
“things are more likely to go wrong”
A shortage of junior doctors and midwives is being highlighted as being a major contributor to the problem. Chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, Cathy Warwick stated that when there are shortages of staff in maternity units, “things are more likely to go wrong”.
The report was ordered following the deaths of up to 30 mothers and babies over a 10 year period at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust. The deaths were deemed unnecessary, with lives that could have been saved if interventions had been carried out sooner in the delivery process.
The figures quoted in the report are based on occurrences reported by NHS staff. It was pointed out that figures could be far greater due to other incidences not being logged. The figures also showed that around half of NHS maternity units had been compelled to close their doors to admissions due operating at capacity.