Why are we interested in this piece of work?
The overwhelming majority of births in England are safe. Stillbirth and maternal death rates have remained stable in recent years, while infant mortality rates have continued to fall.
But we also know that things can and do go wrong. From June 2006 to May 2007, more than 62,000 maternity-related incidents were reported. Most of these (66 per cent) caused no harm to the mother or baby; but 1.5 per cent caused severe harm.
The media tend to focus on who is to blame when things go wrong. But providing safe care is as much a matter of understanding how to get things right as understanding why things went wrong. The challenge for all those providing maternity services is to find ways to make maternity care as safe as it can be – all of the time, at whatever hospital or unit a woman chooses to give birth.