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Global drive to improve maternity safety

Friday September 17th 2021

A global drive to improve the safety of maternity care was under way today marking World Patient Safety Day.

The World Health Organisation has set out five goals for reducing deaths of mothers and babies for the day.

These include reducing unnecessary and harmful practices in childbirth and improving the safe use of medication and blood transfusion during childbirth.

Worldwide, 800 women and 6,700 babies lose their lives during and after childbirth. Another 5,400 babies are stillborn daily.

WHO said the risks of childbirth had increased during the pandemic.

It listed unsafe care as including delayed and incorrect diagnosis, patient misidentification and errors in medication, anaesthesia and surgery together with lack of infection control and unsafe transfusion and injection practices. There are also unnecessary interventions and mistreatment, it said.

A spokesperson said: “Ensuring patient safety is fundamental to strengthening quality health care systems and achieving universal health coverage. At the same time, it is crucial to engage pregnant women, partners and families, and build sufficient and competent health workforces that are supported by adequate resources, safety culture and safe working environments.”

The Royal College of Midwives said that in the UK it was critical to tackle “poor working cultures.”

Its director for professional midwifery Dr Mary Ross-Davie said: “Poor organisational culture has been identified as a key factor in recent investigations and reports on maternity safety and there is a growing body of evidence clearly linking culture with safety. Improving the culture and working environment in maternity services must be a shared endeavour between all members of the maternity team. Safety needs to be everyone’s business.”

She added: “We know midwives are working harder than ever before and services are under pressure, and we are concerned that many of our members are facing burn out. Nurturing a positive work culture also means ensuring the health and wellbeing of maternity staff is being prioritised. Healthy, well-rested, and valued staff can deliver safer better care and in turn improve outcomes for women and their babies.”

Tags: Childbirth and Pregnancy | UK News | Women's Health & Gynaecology | World Health

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