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Births and Safety in England

Births and Safety in England

Baroness Julia Cumberlege said maternity care in England needed to be improved in order to make it “world class”.

£3,000 maternity budgets

The comment came after plans were announced in February 2016 to give pregnant women a budget worth £3,000 which they can use towards their maternity care.

It is hoped giving women their own personal budget will enable them to tailor their care according to their needs.

It can be used on any NHS-accredited service, including the use of birthing pools, hypnotherapy, one-to-one midwifery care and breast-feeding assistance.

How safe it is to give birth in England?

Baronness Cumberlege also said that it has never been safer to give birth in England. But exactly how safe is it?

As part of the news story, the BBC produced some figures regarding births and safety in England. It said that:

  • For every 1,000 births, there are 4.3 stillbirths and 1.8 baby deaths shortly after birth.
  • The number of stillbirths and deaths soon after birth have fallen by one fifth in the past decade.
  • Nearly half of maternity services inspected have been rated as 'inadequate' or 'requires improvement' with regard to safety.
  • One in 17 births involves an incident which causes harm to either the baby or mother
  • £560m is spent by the NHS every year on medical negligence claims relating to maternity care.

How do we compare?

So how does the care in England compare to the care in other parts of the world?

For the past 16 years, the charity Save the Children has produced a report titled 'The State of the World's Mothers'. It analyses maternity care across 179 countries, ranking the best and worst places to be a mother.

In 2015, the UK ranked 24th. In 2013, the UK ranked 26th. The safest places included Australia, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iceland. This means that theoretically, mothers and babies in the UK are twice as likely to suffer harm as those in Scandinavian countries.

The experience of women giving birth in the UK correlates more closely to those giving birth in Qatar and Slovenia.


Therefore while improvements are being made to maternity care in England, there is still much to do before the service can be described as “world class”.

If you or your baby has suffered harm which could have been avoided with better maternity care, please get in touch with us. We are a team of clinical negligence solicitors and can advise whether you have grounds to pursue legal action against those at fault.

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