To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent steps he has taken to lower the maternal mortality rate.
It is the ambition of the Department to halve the rate of maternal deaths by 2025. To achieve this, the Department is working with NHS England on a suite of initiatives set out in the 2017 Maternity Safety Strategy which is available at the following link:
Initiatives relating to lowering the maternal mortality rate include:
- Independent learning investigations conducted by the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch into incidents of maternal death. This will ensure that by finding out what went wrong, the maximum learning can be captured for the individual trust in question and for the wider healthcare system to reduce the likelihood of such events occurring again;
- NHS England plans to introduce a network of maternal medicine specialists across the country to care for pregnant women with significant health conditions such as cardiac disease, epilepsy or diabetes. Cardiovascular issues are the leading indirect cause of maternal death in the United Kingdom. In addition, the Department will provide funding over three years to train 12 consultant physicians as ‘Obstetric Physicians’. The Obstetric Physicians will provide expert care for pregnant women with complex medical problems;
- Psychiatric causes such as suicide, drug and alcohol misuse are major causes of maternal death. NHS England is working to increase capacity and capability in perinatal mental health services across England. This will mean that, by 2020/21, 30,000 more women will be able to access appropriate, high-quality specialist mental health care, closer to home, both in the community and in inpatient Mother and Baby Units. This initiative is backed by a £365 million investment; and
- NHS England is also working closely with Health Education England who are leading on the development of a perinatal mental health competency framework. This supports the perinatal mental health workforce to develop the required skills and knowledge to better identify perinatal mental illness, intervene early and improve recovery rates. Targeted funding of £1.2 million was provided in 2017 to enable the training of mental health, maternity and primary care staff to increase awareness and skills related to perinatal mental health.