Page last updated at 05:52 GMT, Friday, 19 June 2009 06:52 UK

Call for clear maternity plan

Pregnant woman
Over 30,000 women give birth in Wales every year and the figure is rising

An investigation into maternity services in Wales has highlighted a series of concerns, from staff training to how mothers feel they are treated.

The Auditor General for Wales, Jeremy Colman, said there was a need for a national strategy to tackle specific problems in the service.

The report pinpointed the way labour was managed by some trusts and support for infant feeding.

Wales' chief nursing officer said more was being done to improve services.

The survey of maternity services was carried out by the Wales Audit Office (WAO) which examined work at 12 NHS trusts and the Powys local health board during 2007 and 2008.

New mothers were also surveyed as part of the process, and while many were satisfied, according to the WAO, nearly a third felt they were "not always treated with kindness and understanding" during postnatal care.

Training regime

At the time of the audit, it was found that eight NHS trusts were failing to meet the recommended staffing levels for midwives.

Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust, Cardiff and Vale, and Conwy and Denbighshire trusts came out worst over the issue.

Last year, maternity services in Gwent were placed under "special measures" after an assembly government review also raised "unacceptable" concerns over the level of midwife staffing.

AUDITOR'S RECOMMENDATIONS
Auditor General Jeremy Colman
Auditor General for Wales, Jeremy Colman
Develop a comprehensive strategy for maternity services, highlighting good practice
New local health boards to assess staff requirements for delivering safe, high quality services
Make sure that all maternity staff receive the necessary clinical training
Training to ensure sufficient focus on the principles of respect, well being, choice and dignity
Agree a standard set of data that is routinely collected, monitored and used to support service improvement

However, all three of these trusts have now found additional staffing resources.

But the report still found that training regimes for maternity staff varies wildly across Wales.

Less than half the obstetricians and midwives at two trusts - Gwent and North East Wales - received training during the preceding six months.

The auditor general, Mr Colman said: "Women in Wales should be able to expect the best level of care when having a baby.

"Whether their pregnancy, labour and postnatal phase is straightforward or whether they need special care and attention, they put their trust in the NHS.

Extra cash

"I hope the assembly government and NHS will take on the recommendations outlined in my report and will implement changes where necessary, to improve the situation."

Responding to the report, the assembly government's chief nursing officer for Wales, Rosemary Kennedy, said the findings would be studied carefully.

"We are pleased it shows that the vast majority of women in Wales are satisfied with the care they received, with more than 90% of women rating their care as good or better during pregnancy, labour and childbirth," she said.

"We acknowledge that we can, and are, doing more to further improve maternity services and the support for mothers and babies.

She said an extra £4m over the next two years would improve neonatal care for sick and premature babies and said midwifery training places would be increased.



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SEE ALSO
Care issues factor in baby deaths
17 Jun 09 |  Wales
Doctor's fear for maternity care
26 May 09 |  Wales
Mother's fight for neonatal unit
23 Oct 08 |  Wales
Urgent action on maternity units
20 May 08 |  Wales
NHS chiefs welcome births study
13 Aug 07 |  Mid Wales

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