New figures have revealed that almost three-quarters of NHS maternity services need improvement.
NHS England has published new ratings for maternity services across the country, which show where services are performing well and where there is need for improvement.
209 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) were rated, with 144 rated “need improvement” and 11 “greatest need for improvement”.
NHS West Kent was the only group rated as “top performing”, with 53 others being classed as “performing well”.
The ratings were published as part of recommendations from the National Maternity Review providing transparency to families and to help improve maternity care in the NHS.
In response to the figures, Royal College of Midwives Chief Executive, Cathy Warwick, said: “Hopefully these ratings will be used to help CCGs learn from the best and to improve quality where that it is shown to be needed. There is of course already a great deal of work going on to implement the recommendations of the National Maternity Review in England.
“It will be important that improvements emerging from this process feed into that work if we are to ensure learning across the whole system.”
Each CCG was assessed across four different maternity care areas: stillbirth and neonatal mortality rates, maternal smoking rate at delivery, experience and choice.
The data presented also shows figures on the number of annual births, elective caesareans and emergency caesareans.
“I am concerned about the number of services requiring improvement, and about the variations in care and outcomes for women and their babies, shown in areas such as stillbirth rates. Poorly performing services need to be addressing this variation very urgently.
“I do also recognise also that some of this is older data and that improvements may have been made since then,” Cathy Warwick added.
NHS England has confirmed a “comprehensive support package” will be used to assist CCGs in need of improvement.
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