Intended for healthcare professionals


Achieving safer maternity care in the UK

BMJ 2021; 372 doi: (Published 12 January 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;372:n45
  1. Marian Knight, professor of maternal and child population health1,
  2. Charlotte Bevan, bereaved parent2
  1. 1National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  2. 2Warminster, Wiltshire, UK
  1. Correspondence to: M Knight Marian.knight{at}

Systems and thinking need to change

The publication of the first recommendations from the independent review of maternity services at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust1 raises the question of why safety is still a concern in UK maternity services. It is more than five years since a previous investigation at Morecambe Bay trust,2 and there have been similar concerns at Cwm Taf University Health Board, East Kent hospitals, and Crosshouse Hospital.

To women and their families, this latest report can only raise more anxiety about the care they will receive during pregnancy and childbirth, wherever they plan to give birth in the UK. To those families who have tirelessly campaigned for improved maternity safety since well before this latest review was commissioned, the findings will feel depressingly familiar. The review highlights again a need for the voices of women and families to be heard, for enhancements to multidisciplinary care, and better local learning from serious incidents. The report also recommends new senior roles to ensure best practice in fetal monitoring.

To place this report in perspective, national confidential inquiries have led to substantial falls in the numbers of maternal and perinatal deaths in …

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