Imagine if a story appeared in the press reporting that 21 children from one small area of the country may have died as the result of inadequate care under the NHS. What would you expect the result to be? Local fury? National outcry? Government intervention and change? You would hope so. But when an independent inquiry published in December linked the deaths of 21 babies in the West Midlands with inadequate perinatal care it seemed to go somewhat under the radar.
Cathy Warwick, general secretary for the
The national birth rate has risen by 19. And the 3,000 extra midwife positions (that would still not quite give us the optimum midwife/patient ratio, according to Warwick) promised by David Cameron pre-election have not materialised.
My feeling towards the midwives who looked after me in hospital is one of gratitude, they were fabulous. But even my experience wasn't without a glimpse of the pressure they were under. They didn't quite have matchsticks under their eyelids, but I was twice missed on the medication rounds and then sent home without painkillers (no-one senior enough available to sign my prescription), and told to take paracetamol for the six-inch gash in my abdomen (it didn't work).
I took my babies home though, a few aren't so lucky.
The surge of love one feels for that little person as they enter the world is unprecedented, as is the immense amount of trust we realise we must place into the hands of the midwives who look after us and our offspring. So why are they being ignored?
A hundred years ago, mothers and babies dying during childbirth was commonplace and, of course, now the very vast majority of babies do come home safely, thanks to medical technology and midwives' expertise. But if not every baby who COULD survive does, then it's not good enough.
With all the cuts and the pay freezes, rising inflation and the VAT increase, everyone everywhere is struggling financially. But as yet, as far as I can tell, we are not a third world country. If the government if not doing everything it can to ensure the safety and wellbeing of as many mothers and babies as possible, then it is not doing enough. If deaths can be prevented simply by having enough staff, who are not so overworked they are at risk of missing vital signs that a baby is in trouble, then they must be.
Little people are more precious than £s. Our babies' lives should not be being put at risk, simple as that.
To support midwives and their efforts to make child birth safe, please visit Midwives Online.
By: Pip Jones