The results of the 2017 maternity survey published today show that women are reporting a more positive experience of maternity care and treatment.
The survey sought the views of more than 18,000 women who gave birth in February 2017 in services run by 130 NHS trusts across the country.
Women were asked about their experience of antenatal care, care during labour and birth and postnatal care.
The 2017 results highlight improvements in areas such as choice of where to give birth, quality of information and access to help and support after giving birth, when compared to the results from previous years’ surveys.
Notable trends from the survey include:
- The proportion of women who said they were offered the choice of giving birth in a midwife-led unit or birth centre has increased by seven per cent since 2013 (35% in 2013; 41% in 2015; rising to 42% in 2017).
- Over a third of women (38%) reported that they saw the same midwife at every antenatal appointment: a 4% increase since 2013.
- 88% of women surveyed said that they were ‘always’ treated with dignity and respect during labour and birth compared to 86% who said this in 2015 (85% in 2013).
- The majority of women (77%) reported that they were never left alone during the birth of their baby at a time when it worried them. This compares to 74% in 2015.
- More women reported being offered the choice about where to have their antenatal checks compared to previous years (29% in 2013 rising to 31% in 2017), however, the majority of women in 2017 (69 %) said they were not given a choice about this aspect of their care.
Professor Ted Baker, CQC’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals, said: “This year’s survey shows some very positive results about the quality of maternity care being provided in the NHS. This is a testament to efforts and dedication of staff working hard to provide care for pregnant women and new mothers across the country.
“The survey identifies a number of encouraging data trends showing improvements in women’s experiences throughout pregnancy, during birth and postnatally, and it indicates a greater focus on women’s individual needs and choices.
“However, the scope for continued improvement remains, particularly in relation to women’s choices about their antenatal care and ensuring enough information is available to support women through any emotional changes they might experience after giving birth.
“Our own inspection work of maternity services so far shows that the majority of trusts are providing high quality care – with over 60 per cent of hospitals rated as either Good or Outstanding for maternity. However, this also highlights that further work is needed to narrow the variation that we know exists.
“I hope that NHS trusts will reflect on their individual results to understand what women using their maternity services really think about the care and treatment they provide. This will help them to identify where they need to make changes to drive improvements in the quality of care for the benefit of all women and their families.”
The full results for England, as well as individual results for each trust are available on the CQC’s website at www.cqc.org.uk/maternitysurvey