Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Safer childbirth: minimum standards for the organisation and delivery of care in labour

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (UK) alongside organizations like The Royal College of Midwives (UK) have just released a report. The executive summary:

"Concerns from the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH) and its predecessor organisations the Confidential Enquiry into Stillbirths and Deaths in Infancy
(CESDI) and the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths (CEMD), have indicated the need for a fresh look at the organisation of care in labour. The requirements of Standards for Better Health and the recommendations arising from investigations conducted by the Healthcare Commission have added to the breadth of this report, which also incorporates the aspirations of UK maternity service policies."

This report has come about as a result of the findings from the last few 'Confidential Enquiry into Stillbirths and Deaths in Infancy' reports. In the UK, information about maternal and infant deaths are collated into the CESDI report. I find it really interesting that a recurring theme is a lack of recognition of complications on the parts of both midwives and doctors, as well as poor communication between health professions. A further concern is the fall in midwife numbers in the UK so that one-to-one care for women, which is optimum care, is very difficult to provide.

Clearly, these issues are global: in Dunedin, we have had a number of workshops to explore how to improve communication between health professionals. As for midwife numbers, there is a noticeable shortage of midwives which has led the Midwifery Council of New Zealand to consider the option of maternity assistants. I was going to discuss these issues in greater depth but have run out of time, so I put the question to you - both midwives and non-midwives - what can be done to improve communication between health professionals and how can we recruit and retain midwives in the health profession?

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