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!
Our Chair, Elizabeth Prochaska, has today written to Dame Fiona Caldicott, Chair of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to urge her to hold her board to account over the lack of response to a letter sent in July, asking OUH to clarify important details surrounding its maternal request caesarean policy. It is somewhat surprising that an NHS Trust that is accountable to the public, should feel able to ignore a serious request for information, made on behalf of local women, and we look forward to receiving a substantive response by the 3rd January.
The full letter to Dame Caldicott can be found here.
As the UK’s only organisation protecting human rights in pregnancy & childbirth, Birthrights are very proud to be supporting #HumanRightsDay2018 & to join forces with 155 organisations asking the PM to safeguard our freedoms here in the UK #weareallhuman #humanrightsday2018 #humanrights
Full text of the letter, co-ordinated by the British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR):
Dear Prime Minister
Today, on Human Rights Day, we ask you to join us in celebrating universal human rights in the UK and commit to standing firm on our hard-won freedoms and protections.
Created 70 years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a milestone in human history. Following the horrors of World War II, the world community came together to say never again and set down the protections every person has simply because we are all human.
Heralded as Magna Carta for all human kind, the UDHR has set a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, inspiring law and action across the world.
Through the European Convention on Human Rights and our own Human Rights Act we have brought those rights home, making them real and meaningful for people everyday across the UK.
2019 marks another milestone in our history. As the UK prepares to exit the European Union, and uncertainty surrounds us, we ask you to ensure that our commitment to universal human rights at home remains strong and certain.
Birthrights now has a dedicated email address for advice enquiries:
If you have any queries about human rights relating to maternity care – please get in touch with us. Our free email advice line is not only for women and their families but also for healthcare professionals.
If you have any other enquiries about training, speaking engagements or anything else then do continue to contact us on email@example.com
Do you have human rights expertise?
Are you a healthcare professional who puts human rights centred care into practice?
Birthrights is looking for experienced trainers to join its Associate Trainer team as either a Legal trainer or a Healthcare Professional trainer. We will give you the training you need, ongoing support and pay you for the training sessions you do. You will need to be available at least twice a year to deliver training sessions and be willing and able to contribute to the development of our training programme. The full role description is here and the application form is here.
The deadline for applications is the 9th November and the next Associate training day will be held in London on the 7th December. If you would like more information please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tonight True Visions’s ‘Child of Mine’ documentary, showing parents coming to terms with the stillbirth of their babies, will be shown on Channel 4 at 10pm on Thursday 18th October 2018.
We absolutely understand the potential benefits of a sensitively made documentary on stillbirth and the importance of raising awareness of what bereaved parents go through. However we do have some concerns about how this documentary was made and in particular how consent was obtained, which we shared with the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, that includes The Rosie Maternity Hospital, following an enquiry from a member of the public in the area, and you can view this letter here. The response from the documentary makers can be seen here and we understand filming ended shortly afterwards.
If you were affected by the filming at the Rosie or UCL and have any concerns about how this was conducted, please do get in touch on email@example.com.
If you have been affected by stillbirth or miscarriage there are a number of national and local organisations you can contact for support including:
SANDS, the Stillbirth and neonatal death charity
The Miscarriage Association
Antenatal Results and Choices
Birthrights is delighted to welcome Reilly Willis, our new Legal Officer to the staff team. Reilly, who starts with Birthrights this week, is an experienced international human rights lawyer specialising in women’s rights and gender equality. You can find out more about Reilly here.
Reilly will be responding to our advice line enquiries, ensuring our resources are up to date and accessible, and will be leading any legal interventions undertaken by Birthrights, and we are very excited to have her on board!