Released on: 12 September 2019
Elizabeth Duff, Senior Policy Advisor at NCT, said:
“This audit is an important piece of work that highlights the state of maternity services in England, Scotland and Wales today. It’s encouraging that much of the data reflects safe and professional clinical care, however it reveals a number of areas for concern.
The report shows a high proportion (79%) of women who smoke at the beginning of their pregnancy are unable to give up by the time they give birth. This shows a serious need for more and better services to support pregnant women to stop smoking to protect their health and that of their unborn baby. We are calling for action on this finding as a matter of urgency.
Also alarming is the huge variation in rates of medical intervention in childbirth across the UK. The proportion of women with uncomplicated pregnancies who had no intervention during birth ranged from 23% to 48% across the country, which suggests decisions about clinical care are not always consistent or evidence-based. The interventions recommended to pregnant women in childbirth should be based on evidence, along with her individual needs and decisions, and not a postcode lottery.
On a more positive note, it is great news that the number of babies experiencing skin-to-skin contact within the first hour of birth has risen slightly to over 80%. This has been proven to have many benefits for both the mother and baby, including helping newborns maintain a steady body temperature, and providing them with the reassuring sound of a familiar heartbeat.
We hope that these findings are acted upon so that all women have access to high quality, personalised maternity services.”
The report can be found here.