UK sees record childbirth deaths

More women than ever are dying in childbirth – in Britain

RECORD NUMBERS OF women are dying during pregnancy or shortly after childbirth, according to a new report.

Figures show that maternal deaths in the UK are at their highest for 20 years, and substandard care is to blame.

Almost 300 women died in childbirth between 2003 and 2005 from conditions related to pregnancy, leaving 520 children motherless, according to a report in The Independent.

The findings, from Saving Mothers’ Lives, a report by the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health which will be released tomorrow, show that the mortality rate among mothers giving birth has increased by more than 50% since the mid-1980s.

It says ‘avoidable factors’ have contributed to the death toll and condemns healthcare professionals who ‘appeared to fail to identify and manage common medical conditions or potential emergencies’ outside their areas of expertise.

Poorer women were hit the hardest. Women from the most deprived areas are five times more likely to die and black African women are six times more likely.

‘Substandard care accounted for 40% of maternal deaths in the last report and I am fairly sure the same will be true here,’ said Jane Sandall, professor of midwifery and women’s health at King’s College London.

She said the financial crisis in the NHS and the increasing complexity of births had contributed to problems. The report follows a survey last week which found many mothers unhappy with the standard of maternal care.

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