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Improving safety in maternity services

A toolkit for teams


The safety of maternity services is of paramount importance. Maternity teams face many challenges in delivering safe care to mothers, babies and families.

The King’s Fund launched an independent inquiry into the safety of maternity services in 2006. The report from that inquiry, Safe Births: Everybody's business, made a series of recommendations about how the safety of maternity care could be improved.

Building on the recommendations from our inquiry and in partnership with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal College of Midwives, the NHS Litigation Authority, Centre for Maternal And Child Enquiries and the National Patient Safety Agency, The King’s Fund launched the Safer Births Improvement Programme, providing customised support to 12 multidisciplinary maternity teams in England. This toolkit shares the experiences and lessons from those teams.

Improving Safety in Maternity Services: a toolkit for teams is organised around five key areas for improvement in maternity care on which the teams focused:

There are also sections on case studies and general service improvement tools.

Each section begins with a brief explanation on how focusing on improvements in each area can contribute to improved safety. It then highlights some of the experiences of the maternity teams who focused on this issue and their key learning points. There are also short summaries of tools that can be used to improve safety. These provide a brief guide to how to use the tool and signpost further resources. Where available we have included examples or templates that can be used or adapted for local use. Finally, we provide more information about service improvement and the tools and techniques that can be used.

The challenges facing maternity teams are likely to increase with the financial pressures on the NHS. However, many of the changes described here do not need additional funding. They need time and commitment, leadership and some knowledge. The tips and tools in this resource will help maternity teams to implement changes that will deliver benefits to women and families.

Introduction to the toolkit

Anna Dixon and Vinice Thomas discuss the findings of the independent inquiry into the safety of maternity services in England and introduce our new maternity toolkit.