"Thousands suffer 'frightening' births in failing NHS care," The Daily Telegraph reports, alongside headlines in the Daily Mail and BBC News website about "Worry as women left alone in labour".
The findings of the survey - in which 23,000 women took part - were mixed. The CQC concluded that there have been improvements in some areas of maternity care in the last three years. It says that there has been an increase in the number of women reporting feeling more involved during antenatal care and birth, and an increase in the number feeling they were treated with kindness and understanding.
Where did the report come from?
The report has been published by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the body which monitors, regulates and inspects all care services in England, including hospitals, GP surgeries, dental surgeries and care homes.
However, the CQC maternity services report also found problems in some aspects of maternity care. Information and support were reported as being inconsistent nationwide, and more women reported feeling alone during labour or birth at a time that worried them. Twenty-five percent of women reported feeling alone during labour or birth in 2013 - an increase from 22% in 2010.
Who took part in the latest maternity survey?
More than 23,000 women who gave birth in February 2013 (in some trusts, in January and March) took part. The number represents nearly half the women who were asked (46% response rate).
Women were eligible to take part if they were aged 16 or over, gave birth in a hospital, birth centre or maternity unit or had a home birth. The women came from 137 NHS trusts in England.
What questions were women asked about their experience of maternity services?
The survey asked women about their experiences of antenatal care, care during labour and birth and in the first few weeks afterwards. It asked mothers about their access to care, staff communication, involvement in decision making, continuity and quality of care, among a host of other themes.
What did the CQC's maternity survey find
Care during labour
- 77% of women felt they were always involved in decisions about their care antenatally and 74% during labour and birth
- 71% of women said that they were able to move around and find a position that made them most comfortable during labour and birth "most of the time"
- 78% of women said they definitely had confidence and trust in the staff caring for them during labour and birth
- 25% of women reported that they were left alone at a time that worried them during labour and birth. This is up from 22% in 2010
- 19% said their concerns during labour and birth were not taken seriously
- 25% said there was not time to use the pain relief they had planned, with some feeling they were not able to access pain relief quickly or they were given insufficient pain relief
Information about maternity care
- 59% felt they were always given the information and explanations needed
- 23% of women felt that midwives were not aware of their own and their baby's medical history
Antenatal choice and continuity of care
- During pregnancy, 28% of women said they had not seen the same midwife every time, although they wanted to. Postnatally, the figure was 26%
- 38% of women were offered the option of a home birth, 35% the choice of giving birth in a midwife-led unit or birth centre and 16% in a consultant led unit. 18% of women felt they were not offered any choices
Cleanliness of maternity units
- 63% of respondents felt that the hospital room or ward was 'very clean', 32% 'fairly clean', 3% 'not very clean' and 1% 'not at all clean'
- Respondents found toilets and bathrooms less clean than the wards, with just over half (52%) saying they were 'very clean', 38% 'fairly clean', 7% 'not very clean' and 2% 'not at all clean'
- While 85% of women reported being treated with respect and dignity, 12% felt that this only happened sometimes, and 3% that it did not happen at all
What did women say about their experiences of maternity services?
As well as analysing answers to their questions, the report also looks at 8,000 comments made by the women. It found overall that 14.4% of the comments were positive and 85.6% negative. 99.6% of comments on access to care were negative, as were 90.1% on cleanliness.
Antenatal choice and continuity of care
"Thousands suffer 'frightening' births in failing NHS care," The Daily Telegraph reports, alongside headlines in the Daily Mail and BBC News website about "Worry as women left alone in labour"...
Links to Headlines
Midwives leave one in four alone in labour:. Daily Mail, December 13 2013
Thousands suffer 'frightening' births in failing NHS care. The Daily Telegraph, December 13 2013
Worry as women left alone in labour. BBC News, December 12 2013
Care Quality Commission. Maternity services survey 2013. Published December 12 2013
Care Quality Commission. Women's experiences of maternity care have improved, but further progress is needed. December 12 2013