Postnatal Care In UK 'Lacking'

Up To 40 Per Cent Of New Mothers May Be Discharged Too Early From Hospital

01.09.2014

Significant improvements are needed relating to postnatal care in the UK, according to a new report.

A survey carried out by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) shows that up to 40 per cent of women who have just given birth are discharged from hospital too early, potentially leading to further health problems and the need to rely on struggling NHS resources again in the future.

This finding was made following a poll of over 2,000 midwives, 950 student midwives and 98 maternity support workers, with 65 per cent of midwife respondents admitting the level of postnatal care given to new mothers often depended on hospital resources rather than a woman's medical needs.

In addition, one-third of midwives and maternity support workers stated that they did not have enough time to discuss postnatal care with their patients.

The poll also looked at 500 mothers via a Netmums survey, finding 40 per cent believed they had been discharged too quickly from hospital after giving birth - something that the RCM stated was "a real concern".

One survey respondent who had a bad experience relating to postnatal care explained she saw numerous midwives before and after the birth of her child, saying "they had not a hope of offering the kind of care that I wanted".

Chief executive of the RCM Cathy Warwick commented: "Postnatal care should always be based on women's needs and not on funding or organisational issues. This reinforces the need for more midwives.

"Numbers have been increasing, but not fast enough and England remains seriously short of the numbers needed if care is to be of high quality throughout antenatal, labour and postnatal care."

In light of this, the report contains several recommendations of measures it believes should be introduced for the improvement of postnatal care, with these including the number of visits received from a midwife after giving birth to be decided by both the medical professional and the new mother.

Expert Opinion
The findings of this report into postnatal care are extremely troubling as many women are being discharged from hospital earlier than they should be. Patient care should always be a top priority, particularly when vulnerable newborn babies and their mothers are concerned.

“It is vital mothers are given the best quality care no matter which hospital they attend. It is crucial steps are taken to standardise the treatment offered to new mothers across the entirety of the NHS and that staff feel able to offer the care they believe is required.

“All too often we see the devastating impact mistakes during this crucial stage of the child’s life can have on them and their family and it is imperative mothers leave hospital feeling fully-prepared for life at home with their baby.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner