Women still positive about maternity care they received in England, shows CQC survey

on 10 February 2022

A survey by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) shows women who gave birth in February 2021 were still positive about their maternity care experience, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the survey, the majority of women were positive about the care they received, but the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic led to poorer experiences for some and concerns around the quality of postnatal care.

The survey captured the views of 23,000 women who gave birth in February 2021 in England, during the third COVID-19 lockdown for England.

Respondents said they were positive with the interactions they experienced with health care professionals, with 41% reporting that they were able to see or speak to the same midwife at every antenatal and postnatal appointment in comparison to 37% respondents that participated in the survey in 2019.

Women reported that they were asked about their mental health more frequently, with 83% saying they were given enough mental health support during their pregnancy.

However, some areas experienced a decline in mental health conversations, which reflects the impact lockdown and social distancing requirements had on services and staff.

20% said they were not offered a choice of where to have their baby, and 62% said they were not given a choice about where their postnatal care would take place, up from 52% reported in 2019.

CQC’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Ted Baker, said: “This year’s survey captures feedback from women who experienced their antenatal appointments, birth and labour, and postnatal care under pandemic conditions. Maternity services were directly impacted by national restrictions on social distancing and many trusts faced staff shortages due to redeployment, illness and self-isolation requirements.

“Given this context, I am pleased to see that many women surveyed had a positive experience – and that slight improvements were evident in terms of continuity of carer and mental health support during pregnancy. This is a testament to the efforts of staff working hard to provide care for pregnant women and new mothers - even when up against unprecedented pressures.

“That said, we cannot ignore the fact that the year on year improvement we have seen with previous years surveys has stalled, and in some cases, women are reporting poorer experiences. The pandemic brought about changes that limited choice and partner involvement and the impact is reflected very clearly in the survey results.

“It is also extremely disappointing that postnatal experiences continue to fall significantly short, with the pandemic exacerbating existing concerns about the need for better information and support for women in the weeks and months after giving birth.

The full CQC’s 2021 Maternity report can be found here.