This survey looked at the experiences of women and other pregnant people who had a live birth in early 2022.
Women and other pregnant people who gave birth between 1 and 28 February 2022 (and January if a trust did not have a minimum of 300 eligible births in February) were invited to take part in the survey. Fieldwork took place between April and August 2022. Responses were received from 20,927 women and people who had recently given birth. This was a response rate of 46.5%.
What we found
At a national level the 2022 maternity survey shows that people's experiences of care have deteriorated in the last 5 years. Trend analysis was carried out on 26 evaluative questions on data from between 2017 and 2022. Of these questions, 1 showed a statistically significant upward trend, 4 showed no change and 21 showed a statistically significant downward trend. Furthermore, of the 21 questions with downwards trends, results for 2022 were at the lowest point for the 5-year period in 10 cases.
Results for 18 of these questions declined during the height of the pandemic (2021). Out of the 18 questions that saw a large decline in experience in 2021, 5 have seen a further decline in 2022 and 6 have stayed level with 2021 results. This indicates that some experiences of maternity services haven’t yet recovered to pre-pandemic levels including care during labour and birth and postnatal care at home and in hospital.
- Since 2017, there has been a positive upward trend for women and other people who had recently given birth reporting that there was no delay with their discharge from hospital, from 55% to 62% in 2022
Mental health support
- Support for mental health during pregnancy is improving, although there remains room for further improvement
- Nearly three-quarters of women and other pregnant people (71%) said their midwife definitely asked about their mental health during antenatal check-ups; an improvement compared with 69% in 2021 and 67% in 2019
- Furthermore, 85% said they were given enough support for their mental health during their pregnancy; an improvement compared with 83% in 2021
- In terms of postnatal care, the vast majority said a midwife or health visitor asked them about their mental health (96% compared with 95% in 2021 and 2019)
Key areas for improvement
Availability of staff
- The proportion of women and other pregnant people being given the help they needed when they contacted a midwifery team during antenatal care, dropped from 74% in 2017 to 69% in 2022
- Women and other pregnant people were less likely to say they were ‘always’ able to get a member of staff to help them when they needed attention during labour and birth; 63% compared with 65% in 2021 and 72% in 2019
- Results are lower still for care in hospital after the birth; 57% said they were ‘always’ able to get help, a decrease compared with 59% in 2021 and 62% in 2019
- In terms of postnatal care, 70% were ‘always’ given the help they needed when contacting a midwifery or health visiting team, down from 73% in 2021 and 79% in 2019
- Less than half (45%) said they could ‘always’ get support or advice about feeding their baby during evenings, nights or weekends, a downward trend since 2017 (56%)
Confidence and trust
- Just over two-thirds (69%) of women and other pregnant people reported ‘definitely’ having confidence and trust in the staff delivering their antenatal care
- Results were higher for staff involved in labour and birth (78%) but there has been a downward trend since 2017 (82%)
- In terms of postnatal care, while most said they ‘definitely’ had confidence and trust in the midwifery team (71%), the trend is again a downward one, from 73% in 2017
- There has also been a downward trend for ‘always’ being treated with kindness and understanding whilst in hospital after the birth, from 74% to 71%
Communications and interactions with staff
- The proportion of women and other pregnant people saying they were given appropriate advice and support when they contacted a midwife or hospital at the start of their labour, decreased from 87% in 2017 to 82% in 2022
- There has also been a downward trend since 2017 for women and other pregnant people saying that if they raised a concern during labour and birth, they felt it was taken seriously, from 81% to 77% in 2022
- 59% of women and other pregnant people were always given the information and explanations they needed during their care in hospital, down from 66% in 2017
How experience varies for different groups of people
Women and other pregnant people report some differences in their experiences of maternity care according to certain demographic characteristics. Some of the more consistent differences include women are more likely to report positive experiences of maternity care if they have continuity of carer or have an unassisted vaginal delivery. Women are more likely to report poorer experiences across the maternity care pathway if they have had an emergency caesarean birth, do not have continuity of carer (no named midwife) or have not had a previous pregnancy.
Results for NHS trusts
Each trust has been provided with a benchmark report, which provides: detail of the survey methodology, headline results, the trust score for each evaluative question, banding for how a trust score compares with other trusts and historical data (where available).
How will results be used?
We will use the results from the survey to build an understanding of the risk and quality of services and those who organise care across an area. Where survey findings provide evidence of a change to the level of risk or quality in a service, provider or system, we use the results alongside other sources of people’s experience data to inform targeted assessment activities.
Trusts, and those who commission services, use the results to identify and make the changes they need to improve the experience of people who use their services.
NHS England and NHS Improvement; and the Department for Health and Social Care
Information collected nationally in a consistent way is essential to support public and Parliamentary accountability. The results are used by NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care for performance assessment, improvement and regulatory purposes.