London 'has high rate of childbirth deaths'
NHS Choices Behind the Headlines, 2012
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Midwife numbers have risen in London, but so have maternal deaths
“More than 100 mothers have died in childbirth in London in the last five years,” according to The Independent.
The newspaper says the rate is twice as high as the rest of the country, and that a shortage of midwives may be to blame.
The news is based on a letter written to The Lancet medical journal by Susan Bewley and Angela Helleur of the Women’s Health Academic Centre at St Thomas’ Hospital London, and on subsequent interviews with Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives.
News coverage also focused on Warwick’s calls for more midwives in London, owing to a perceived shortage in the capital.
The original letter drew on a variety of data suggesting a potential rise in maternal deaths in London in recent years.
The letter suggested that either poor maternity services or an increase in the number of women with pregnancy risk factors could be behind the possible rise.
While this news is potentially worrying for expectant mothers, the numbers should be viewed in context, as the chances of maternal death during childbirth are extremely low in London, at around 0.013%.
That said, the research highlighted the importance of tailoring midwifery services to the needs of London women, and of ensuring that appropriate maternity services, such as midwives, are available fro all.
In an interview with Behind the Headlines, Cathy Warwick sought to give reassurance as she commended the overall quality of maternity services in London, and said: "NHS London has been one of the leading Strategic Health Authorities both in ensuring high-quality maternity services and attempting to increase midwife numbers.