Page last updated at 06:00 GMT, Tuesday, 26 May 2009 07:00 UK

Doctor's fear for maternity care

A pregnant woman
The doctor said there were not enough staff to see all ante-natal patients

A senior doctor has warned that babies' lives are sometimes being put at risk because of a lack of staff in some of Wales' largest maternity hospitals.

The doctor - who does not want to be identified for fear of losing his job - spoke to BBC Wales' Week In Week Out.

Tuesday night's programme is investigating maternity services.

But Rosemary Kennedy, chief nursing officer for Wales, says maternity services are safe, and more midwives are being recruited across the country.

The doctor said the greatest problem was in high-risk pregnancies at larger hospitals' consultant-led units.

"It doesn't happen very often, because the still birth rate is extremely low, but there are a number of babies that are ill and some babies that are lost every year in south Wales that different management would have resulted in a better outcome," the doctor said.

One area of particular concern to the doctor is when pregnant women go more than 12 to 14 days past their due date.

A woman's placenta does not work so effectively, and the doctor said a lack of staff had led to inductions of labour being delayed, and - on occasion - babies dying.

"There are some pregnancies where babies can't be saved and as doctors and midwives we accept that," he said.

"But it's just very, very hard to watch and see a baby that has been lost that could have been saved - and sometimes saved by something as simple as delivering that baby a little bit earlier," he added.

The doctor is so concerned about a shortage of doctors and midwives he wants a review of maternity services across Wales.

But Ms Kennedy insisted that maternity services in Wales are safe. "I think any complaint, any concern - wherever it comes from, really does have to be taken seriously," she said.

"Now, in terms of safety we have Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, which is our independent arms length body, which will look at all concerns which are raised.

"It will also undertake an annual review of maternity services, and they have assured us that in terms of safety - Wales is a safe place to have your baby."

Week In Week Out is on BBC 1 Wales at 2235 BST on Tuesday, May 26.

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