Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will today unveil a comprehensive package of measures designed to further improve the safety of maternity care in the NHS. The new measures include £8 million for multi-disciplinary training, with at least £40,000 available to each Trust in England. In a speech this morning the Health Secretary will outline 10 key actions the NHS will take over the next year to improve maternity safety, including: 

  • a £250,000 Maternity Safety Innovation Fund to help create and pilot new ideas for improving maternity care, like the successful PROMPT scheme pioneered by Professor Tim Draycott in Southmead which has some of the lowest child mortality rates in Europe.
  • publishing new maternity ratings for every CCG across the NHS to improve transparency, raise standards and give families better information about the quality of local maternity services;
  • a National Quality improvement Programme. We expect every maternity unit to take part in this exciting national initiative, with input from UK and international experts to exchange ideas and best practice. A similar scheme in Scotland was linked to a 19% decrease in stillbirths over a three year period.

The Health Secretary will also consult on a new Rapid Resolution and Redress (RRR) scheme to give eligible families a thorough and independent investigation, and the option to join an alternative system of compensation that offers support and regular payments without the need to bring a claim through the courts. A similar scheme operating in Sweden has reduced serious avoidable birth injuries by around 50 per cent in the last six to seven years.

Clea Harmer, Chief Executive of Sands said: “We welcome the government’s renewed commitment to improving maternity safety to save babies’ lives. We’re delighted that the importance of a clear national strategy for a sustained reduction in deaths has been recognised, and resources have been committed to achieve this. It is vital that Trusts are properly supported to implement the measures outlined today.

“We pay tribute to the parents across the country who, by speaking out about their personal experience of bereavement, have helped us raise awareness that much more can and should be done. Their voices must continue to be heard as these new measures are rolled out.”