The National Audit Office (NAO) reported last week that one-fifth of the maternity services budget was spent on compensation for clinical negligence claims. The NAO referred to “wide unexplained variations” in the care provided between hospital trusts and called for an additional 2,300 midwives to be recruited across England to improve the standard of care. Despite this, the NHS has cut maternity funding in half of England's health regions. NHS primary care trusts spent £177 million on maternity services last year, a 15% drop from the £210 million spent in 2011 – 2012.
According to the Department of Health, only one NHS region has achieved the recommended staffing levels. Health organisations argue that high quality care of expectant mothers cannot be achieved with staff shortages and the number of births per midwife is far too high in some regions.
On the release of the NAO report and further calls for additional midwives, Kay Taylor, senior associate at Penningtons Manches commented: " Given the already well-documented pressure on maternity units and a continuing increase in births, these cuts are further cause for concern. Huge demands are currently made on our maternity services and we can only hope that the Government will heed the recommendations made by all of these organisations to improve care across the country. Increasing the number of midwives available across the NHS will help to ensure that, wherever possible, new mothers can enjoy what should be a wonderful time in their lives with a new addition to the family."