Commenting on the findings of the CQC’s national maternity survey, Amy Gibbs, Chief Executive of Birthrights, said:
“It’s positive that overall 88% of women surveyed felt they were ‘always’ treated with respect and dignity during labour and birth, but other findings highlight areas where maternity care is failing to respect women’s basic rights.
“Every woman has the right to choose where and how she gives birth, yet 15% said they were not offered any choices about where to have their baby and a quarter said they were not always involved enough in decisions about their care during labour and birth.
“Above all, the findings underline how vital continuity of carer is to improving women’s maternity experiences, giving them time and space to ask questions and make decisions that are right for them. We know that seeing the same midwife through pregnancy, birth and afterwards can make all the difference and help ensure safety goes hand in hand with dignity and respect. Yet only 15% of women reported that the midwives who cared for them during labour and birth had been involved in their antenatal care.
“It’s clear we need renewed commitment and drive at national and local levels, to ensure the vision of Better Births is achieved for most women to have continuity of carer by 2021.”
The full findings of the CQC’s maternity survey 2018 can be found here.
Responding to the publication of the NHS Long Term Plan today, Amy Gibbs, Chief Executive of Birthrights, said:
“We are really pleased to see improving maternity care at the heart of the NHS Long Term Plan, particularly the commitment that most women will receive continuity of carer by March 2021. We know that seeing the same midwife through pregnancy, birth and afterwards can make all the difference to women’s experiences and help ensure safety goes hand in hand with dignity and respect. This ambition must be backed up by investment in recruitment, retention and training, so NHS trusts up and down the country can make this pledge a reality for all women and midwifes are equipped to deliver rights-respecting care.
“We also welcome the goal to give more women access to mental health support following birth. In line with the Plan’s general focus on prevention, we would like to see equal effort on doing everything possible to avoid trauma during birth. How women are treated during their pregnancy and childbirth is a major driver for whether they experience trauma, so it is vital that delivery of the NHS Long Term Plan embeds respect for women’s rights to dignity, autonomy, privacy and equality explicitly into maternity care.”
- reduce stillbirths and mother and child deaths during birth by 50%
- ensure most women can benefit from continuity of carer through and beyond their pregnancy, targeting those who will benefit most
- expand support for perinatal mental health conditions
Four weeks into being Birthrights’ new Chief Executive, I’m feeling very lucky to lead such a brilliant organisation and brimming with positivity and ideas for 2019. I’m blessed with a very talented team, engaged and expert Trustees, supportive funders, invaluable partners and a wider enthusiastic pool of people who share our mission to improve women’s experience of pregnancy and childbirth by promoting respect for human rights.
As 2018 draws to a close, we wanted to share our highlights from the year. And since it’s Christmas, here are our top 12. I’m so impressed by how much has been achieved by our small but perfectly formed team – showing why #smallbutvital charities are so important. Clearly, I can take no credit for these and my thanks goes to the team and my predecessor, Rebecca Schiller, who I’m delighted will be joining the Board of Trustees next year.
In 2018, we’re proud to have:
- Launched our biggest campaign yet on the right to maternal request caesarean section
- Responded to over 170 email requests for advice from women in need
- Seen our online factsheets visited over 7,000 times – a 7% increase on 2017
- Delivered 18 speaking engagements or training sessions to healthcare professionals
- Strengthened our links with NHS England, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Royal College of Midwives, General Medical Council, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, Public Services Ombudsman for Wales
- Engaged with the Maternity Transformation Programme Stakeholder Council and numerous NICE consultations
- Secured a new grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation to expand our team and impact
- Progressed our Baring Foundation and Trust for London funded work on women with complex needs
- Welcomed new team members, trustees, Associate Trainers and accountants on board
- Improved our financial systems and capacity to report on budgets and grants
- Deepened our partnership with Leigh Day and explored other corporate partnerships
- Continued our crucial collaborative relationships with Birth Companions and BPAS
And much more besides… Merry Christmas and thank you to all our funders, supporters and partners – I look forward to meeting and working with you in 2019!