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NHS Maternity Care System is Failing Women

NHS Maternity Care System is Failing Women

The NHS maternity care system is failing women. More women are giving birth later in life which brings additional risks. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) specified that the optimal age for childbearing is 20 to 35. With an increased risk of complications for both mother and infant during pregnancy and delivery it is time to take action. There is a greater risk of general maternal health problems, such as high blood pressure, which can contribute to complications. Older mothers are at risk of having a baby with a congenital abnormality, such as Down’s syndrome and an increased risk of pre-eclampsia is associated with older mothers. Coupled with an increased risk of complications during delivery, such as prolonged labour, need for assisted delivery or Caesarean section, or stillbirth.

Further, the NHS maternity care system is failing women because an increased number of women are overweight or classed as obese. Scientists at Kings College in London analysed data from the pregnancies of 385 first-time obese mothers and found that obese women had higher rates of eclampsia and premature births compared to women inside recommended weight guidelines. Obese women were nearly twice as likely to give birth to a low-weight baby, weighing less than 5lbs 8oz (2.5kg). Being overweight also raises the chance that the pregnancy will go past the due date and raises blood pressure. These problems lead to an induced labour. This is a huge issue for all maternity units in the UK.

The problems

The rates for severe tears have tripled in the ten years to 2012, according to the Royal College of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians (RCOG). Is there a correlation? Should birth plans and medical care be changing to accommodate these new risks in our society?

Is it acceptable to still use forceps? A managed birth should protect the mother by providing information about each stage and treatment on offer. No woman can be properly advised and consented during an emergency. The ramifications of a forceps delivery cannot be fully understood. Women face internal and external tearing as well as an episiotomy – cut open and stitched back together. Hospitals know that an older, overweight lady being induced is likely to have problems which could result in forceps and resultant tears. A full discussion should take place as part of the birth plan with all available alternatives offered.

The ongoing problems associated with this are far reaching. Some 40% of mothers experience pelvic floor issues, incontinence or prolapse. Faced with this as a risk factor would more women opt for a c-section? The fear from the NHS perspective is yes, but isn’t that what patient choice is about? A lifelong NHS treatment plan to deal with the consequences of a poorly managed birth costs the NHS far more than say, an elective c-section. In which case why are we subjecting women to horrific birth experiences when it could be avoided?

What you can do

If you think that the NHS maternity care system is failing women and you have been affected, then get in touch with us today. We have an all-female team who specialise is women’s gynaecological and urogynecological issues.

Handley Law always acts on a No Win No Fee basis. We do not take money from you up front to investigate your claim.

Call us today on 0800 470 2009 or email Dr Victoria Handley at

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