All is not well with NHS maternity care services in England. There have been several high-profile maternity crises which has resulted in the death of mothers and babies. There have been independent review investigations into some of these cases and the findings make for disturbing reading. Findings which strike at the core of NHS care delivery showing a stark violation of patients’ rights, autonomy, and safety. Confidence in our NHS maternity services can be seen to have been severely shaken by these crises.
In reviewing these crises, it is important to identify common themes, commonalities and to ask what these say about patient safety in maternity and in other care areas in the NHS. We will look firstly at the general context of NHS patient safety to set essential context for the discussion.