Editorials

Maternity services: the Audit Commission reports

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.314.7084.844 (Published 22 March 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:844

Listen to women, especially after delivery

  1. James Drife, Professora
  1. a Division of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Leeds Infirmary, Leeds LS2 9NS

    Maternity care in England and Wales costs £1.1bn a year, an average of £1700 per pregnancy. The Audit Commission has the responsibility for checking that money is being spent wisely by local authorities and by the NHS. Its national report on maternity services was published last week.1 A team from the commission visited 13 NHS trusts and collected information from 12 health authorities and 500 general practitioners. Through MORI, it surveyed a national sample of recent mothers: questionnaires were sent to 3570 women 16-18 weeks after delivery and 2375 (67%) responded.

    The report concludes that although maternity services are becoming more “woman centred,” further improvements are possible. For example, it recommends that women should receive better information about options for care; that midwives' work should be organised to maximise continuity of care in labour; and that problems with postnatal care should be rectified. It believes this can be achieved without increased funding. “Trusts can …

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