The testimonies of the families interviewed in Panorama’s programme, Maternity Scandal: Fighting for the Truth (BBC 1, 23rd February 2022) were very distressing.

We praise the bravery of those who spoke publicly on the programme about losing their children and the injuries sustained by women during childbirth. We admire and commend the tenacity of the families who have fought for years to bring profound failures in maternity care to public attention, despite being rebuffed by those who ought to have helped them.

During the programme, we heard how patients’ concerns around the time of delivery were dismissed by healthcare professionals, with catastrophic results for the patients, their children and families. If anything could make hearing this worse, it is the fact that failure to listen to pregnant women and women in labour has been identified in earlier maternity care inquiries as a critical element leading to poor outcomes.

We await the final report from the Ockenden Inquiry next month but at this point we ask in all seriousness: how many women and children need to be hurt before it is a basic practice to listen to women throughout their pregnancy and labour?  

We believe a sweeping cultural change in obstetrics and midwifery is urgently needed. Those caring for pregnant women and women in labour must work in partnership with their patients, practice shared decision making, listen to them and treat them with respect, kindness and compassion.

A ‘normal’ birth is one that results in a healthy baby and mother, however that is achieved.

24th February 2022