Women left alone during labour

One in four women 'abandoned during childbirth'

ONE IN FOUR women are being left alone during labour or soon afterwards, according to a new study.

The Healthcare Commission interviewed 26,000 women ? the largest ever study of NHS maternity care ? and found that the closure of specialist maternity wards, a shortage of staff and shortfalls in funding are putting mothers and babies at risk.

Official guidelines state that a woman in established labour should not be left on her own ? except for short periods or at her own request.

Yet in 18 out of the 148 trusts inspected, more than one in five women said they were left alone at a time that worried them. At some hospitals, the figure was more than half.

The government has proposed that all mothers-to-be should be supported by a named midwife throughout their pregnancies by 2009.

But the Royal College of Midwives estimates that at least 5,000 midwives are needed on top of the 24,000 already working in England.

Louise Silverton, deputy general secretary of the college, told The Times: ‘We have got to aim for all women to be happy with their care but we will struggle to make this happen unless the worsening shortage of midwives is addressed.’

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