Welcome improvements in maternity services but still a long way to go

09 February 2024

Responding to a Care Quality Commission survey of more than 25,500 women and people who used NHS maternity services in 2023, the chief executive of NHS Providers, Sir Julian Hartley said: 

"Listening to women and their experiences of maternity services is key, and trust leaders value the insights this annual survey brings. They welcome the reported improvements in their interactions with maternity staff and care they received during labour and birth. But they also know this progress is only part of the picture.

"Maternity services face a number of challenges, including an increase in the complexity of cases, worrying workforce gaps and persistent health inequalities. It's clear more needs to be done to support those with a long-term mental health condition. Worryingly high maternal mortality rates for black women and those living in the most deprived areas are deeply concerning and must be addressed.

"Much more needs to be done to ensure all mothers receive the same level of safe, high-quality care and support during pregnancy and birth. As well as recruiting and retaining more staff, action is needed to free up midwives in particular so they can give the frontline care that women and their babies need.

"We must address inequities head on, including with trusts driving anti-racism strategies, setting clear standards of behaviour, and supporting staff and patients to feel empowered to speak up and confident they will be listened to."