Most expectant and new mothers are experiencing better maternity care, finds national survey
Findings from the Care Quality Commission's (CQC) national
survey of more than 20,000 women suggest that the majority who gave
birth in February this year had a better experience overall
compared to the results from previous years, across the 133 NHS
trusts in England. Access to midwives, choice of where to give
birth, and the quality of information are particular areas where
the NHS appears to have improved.
Published today (Tuesday 15th December), the findings highlight
women's responses to questions across themes such as access to
care, personal choices, type of birth and emotional wellbeing.
The responses from women indicate they have had positive
experiences as a result of being first seen by a midwife, being
offered a midwife led unit and always being spoken to in a way
that is understood.
Being treated with dignity and respect, having clean wards,
toilets and bathrooms and more support for feeding also featured
favourably in the survey responses.
This is the fourth survey of its kind that CQC has carried out in
order to help NHS trusts understand what women's experiences are of
their maternity care and to make improvements. CQC uses this
intelligence as part of its wider monitoring of NHS trusts.
Notable trends from this year's statistical report include:
• The proportion of women who reported that the first
healthcare professional they saw about their pregnancy was a
midwife has nearly doubled in the last eight years - around two
fifths (37%) reported this in 2015, up from around a fifth (19%) in
2007 (32% in 2013).
• 59% of women in 2015 said they received their first
'booking' appointment before they were 10 weeks pregnant, compared
to 37% in 2007.
• 41% of women said they were offered a choice of giving
birth in a midwife led unit or birth centre; a 6% increase from
• Over a third of women (36%) reported that they saw the
same midwife at every antenatal appointment, 2% more than in 2013,
although 35% this year said they did not mind.
• 89% of women said that during their antenatal care they
were "always" spoken to in a way they could understand - up by 7
percentage points since 2007 (82%). However, this means that
11% were not "always" spoken in this way.
• Nearly two thirds of women (62%) said they felt they were
"always" given the information or explanations they needed whilst
in hospital and after the birth of their baby; an increase of 3
percentage points compared to 2013 (59%).
• Support during and after pregnancy has considerably
improved rising from 42% in 2007 to 63% of women in 2015 saying
they felt that midwives and other health professionals gave active
support and encouragement about feeding their baby.
• 87% of women reported that they were always treated with
dignity and respect during labour and birth compared to 85% in
• The proportion of women being in a position of lying with
legs in stirrups whilst having a normal vaginal delivery has seen a
steady increase over the past few years going from 17% in 2010, to
19% in 2013 and 22% in 2015.
Commenting on the maternity survey, Professor Sir Mike
Richards, CQC's Chief Inspector of Hospitals, said: "Every
single woman deserves to be treated with dignity and personalised
care when having a baby, and so I am glad that the findings suggest
women are experiencing better care and treatment during pregnancy
"The survey identifies some examples of encouraging data trends
showing improvements across a number of areas, and reinforces the
importance of NHS trusts focussing on women's individual needs and
"From our own inspection work of maternity services so far -
rating just over 60 per cent of trusts as either Good or
Outstanding - there is no doubt of the improvement work that is
still needed in order to narrow the wide gap of variation that we
"I hope NHS trusts will make full use of their individual survey
results so that they can translate the delivery of maternity
services into consistent and high-quality care for the benefit of
all women and their families."
CQC is now studying the statistical findings of its maternity
survey closely before publishing an official response document in
the new year. This report will provide more analysis and opinion on
the survey results across each of the five key areas that CQC
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Notes to Editors
1. The overall results of this year's maternity survey, as
well as a link to individual NHS Trust benchmark reports showing
results for each survey question, is published at
2. The survey, including 72 questions, was open between
April and September 2015 and sent to a sample of 50,945 women aged
16 or over.
3. The survey results cover each aspect of the survey,
structured around antenatal care, labour and birth and postnatal
4. The survey is coordinated on behalf of CQC by the Picker
5. CQC's latest annual State of Care report mentions what
we have found with regards to the quality of maternity care within
acute hospitals. It states that 2% are outstanding, 60% are good,
34% are requires improvement and 4% are
About the Care Quality Commission
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator
of health and social care in England. We make sure health and
social care services provide people with safe, effective, caring,
well-led and responsive care, and we encourage care services to
improve. We monitor, inspect and regulate services to make sure
they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety and we
publish what we find to help people choose care.