Baby deaths in maternity wards linked to lack of staff by top doctor Dr David Richmond
Sunday 27 April 2014
Britain’s top gynaecologist has warned that understaffing in maternity wards could be behind the high numbers of baby deaths in the UK.
In his first interview since becoming president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Dr David Richmond said he was concerned at the deaths of about 300 babies a year either during or shortly after birth. Another 1,200 children are left with other serious health problems, such as brain damage.
He said in some cases staff made “small, relatively innocuous mistakes” that had serious consequences.
But Dr Richmond also said a 22 per cent rise in the number of births over the last 10 years had put pressure on maternity units.
“We need to look at the possibility that understaffing, labour wards that are under pressure and busy, and stretched facilities may be a factor in some of these poor outcomes,” he told The Guardian.
Another problem was the lack of expert care around the clock. “If you need to have a consultant there at three in the afternoon, why is it not equally important to have a consultant there at three o'clock in the morning? In my view, it is,” Dr Richmond said.
He compared deaths of babies during labour to “plane crashes”, but said there was also a “big difference”.
“Flights are often cancelled for safety reasons – medical emergencies during pregnancy and labour can't be cancelled,” he said.
“Lots and lots of women travel through pregnancy and labour safely but occasional tragedy occurs. These tragedies are always 'multifactorial' and require thorough investigation to establish why,” he said.
“It is not uncommon that a series of small relatively innocuous mistakes, when combined, lead to a disaster. There are often no easy fixes. The challenge is to be willing to share these experiences, learn from each other and invest in safety.”
Dr Richmond also described Britain's rate of stillbirth of nearly 4,000 a year as an “appalling” and largely preventable loss of life.
Dr Dan Poulter, the health minister, said: “The numbers of stillbirths and infant mortalities are at the lowest levels since 1993, but there is still more to do.
“The NHS is a safe place to give birth, with women reporting high levels of trust and confidence in staff.”
Life & Style blogs
Husband creates spreadsheet detailing wife's 'excuses' for turning down sex
The Last of Us: Ashley Johnson says she would play Ellie in a sequel
UK police to start seizing drivers' mobile phones after all crashes
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Feminist artistic underwear gives a biology lesson in women’s internal anatomy
- 1 Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
- 2 Christians: The world's most persecuted people
- 3 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 4 Danish TV reporter is all business up top, all party down below
- 5 Ross Burden dead: MasterChef and Ready Steady Cook star dies at age 45
£30000 - £34000 Per Annum 25 days holiday, Private healthcare: Clearwater Peop...
£400 - £450 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Banking - London...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Application ...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Chemical Eng...