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Maternity care: a postcode lottery?

By Clare Gooch

An inquiry into traumatic childbirth has called for an overhaul of the UK’s maternity and postnatal care, after hearing many harrowing stories from parents.


New baby and mum at home

The Birth Trauma Inquiry, led by MP’s Theo Clarke and Maria Caulfield, is said to have heard evidence from more than 1,300 women and birthing people. Of these 1,300 people, many said they were left in blood-soaked sheets after giving birth, while others said their children had suffered life-changing injuries due to medical negligence.

It is estimated that 30,000 people who give birth each year in the UK alone have negative experiences during the delivery of their babies. This is an astounding figure and one that needs to change. It is reported that 1 in 20 women and birthing people develop (PTSD) after giving birth, another staggering figure that needs to change.

MP Theo Clarke, who chaired the inquiry, reported that there was a postcode lottery of maternity care in this country. She continued I don’t think it is acceptable that depending on where you live, you will literally be offered a different level of care in terms of how you are given support during childbirth and afterwards ”. It seems that sadly, this is becoming a common trend and one that we are seeing more frequently.

Following the recommendations made by the inquiry, it's hoped that the government, which is said to have worked very constructively with the inquiry, will implement most if not all the recommendations made. The improvement strategy will include 12 recommendations, including but not limited to:

  •  The national roll-out of a base standard in maternity services across the UK
  • Putting an end to the “postcode lottery” of perinatal care
  • Offering mothers and parents universal access to specialist maternal mental health services across the UK
  • Commit to safer staffing levels
  • Provide support for fathers and ensure nominated birth partners are continuously informed and updated during labour and post-delivery

The government is encouraged to outline how it will recruit, train, and retain more midwives, obstetricians, and anaesthetists to ensure safe levels of staffing in maternity services and provide mandatory training on trauma-informed care.

A further key recommendation is to appoint a new maternity commissioner who would report directly to the prime minister to help implement change across the UK.

 Read more about the report here.

Health Secretary, Victoria Atkins said she is determined to improve the quality and consistency of care for women and birthing people. Other healthcare professionals have said that the experiences outlined in the report “are simply not good enough”.

The findings of the report were presented to ministers on 13 May. The  health secretary is expected to set out the government’s response.

At Switalskis, we support many women, birthing people and families who have been impacted by declining maternity services across the UK.

Whether they have suffered a birth injury themselves, are supporting an injured baby or have sadly lost a baby, we see the significant impact this has on individuals and families.

We welcome a positive change to maternity services so that women, birthing people, and families are better supported during labour, delivery and post-delivery.

In the meantime, we encourage anyone who may have been impacted by poor maternity care to get in touch so that we can begin to support you.

To speak to one of our friendly team in complete confidence, call 0800 138 0458 or email


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Clare has worked in Medical Negligence for over 10 years.  She’s a Senior Associate Solicitor in our Medical Negligence team based in Switalskis’ London office.

Senior Associate Solicitor

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