Standards of care maintained in many areas of maternity services

10 February 2022

Commenting on Care Quality Commission's (CQC) Maternity Survey 2021 results, the director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, Miriam Deakin said:

"The pandemic has increased pressures across the NHS, and maternity services are no different, as the findings of this new survey highlight.

"It is therefore good to see that despite these pressures, respondents were positive about their experience in several key areas, including continuity of carer, mental health support and communications and interactions with staff. We also welcome the progress made in improving the experience for mothers, which is the key focus for trusts as they deliver care in a complex service.

"While we are pleased that the standards of care have been maintained in so many areas thanks to the hard work of NHS staff, it is concerning that these results do not always reflect the year-on-year improvements noted in previous surveys. Some results within the survey point to continuing workforce pressures and the impact of COVID-19 on the experience for women.

"While the report draws attention to the significant amount of evidence around the inequalities underlying maternity care in England, this could have been given greater emphasis.

"We welcome the report's focus on mental health support and are pleased that improvements have been noted by patients who access perinatal mental health services, as women with a mental health condition were more likely to report negative experiences. However, there are remaining gaps in support and there is a continued need to ensure mental health is fully embedded in maternity care pathways.

"In this highly risky and complex environment for patients, it is critical that government and national bodies invest in fully funded, better workforce planning to support local areas; otherwise, key initiatives, such as the continuity of carer model, will not be possible."