MATERNITY safety in the NHS is “deteriorating” with two thirds of clinics now below standard, a health watchdog warns.
The Care Quality Commission said the number of mum-and-baby units rated ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ has increased since last year.
Safety inspections found 65 per cent are sub-par compared to 54 per cent in 2022, and one in 10 are inadequate.
Deputy CEO Kate Terroni said it is a “deteriorating picture” driven partly by poor staff communication and weak leadership.
Meanwhile the number of ambulance services not meeting standards doubled from 30 to 60 per cent.
The CQC blamed staff shortages, financial inflation and strikes for NHS decline and warned of it becoming a two-tier system.
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CEO Ian Trenholm said: “The combination of the cost-of-living crisis and workforce challenges risks leading to unfair care.
“Those who can afford to pay for treatment will do so and those who can’t will face longer waits and reduced access.
“The impact of unresolved industrial action on people can’t be ignored – it’s crucial that both parties work towards an agreement so strikes do not continue into the winter.”
The CQC report also said patients are suffering because of rising waiting lists and problems getting GP and dentists’ appointments.
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Sally Warren, of the King’s Fund think-tank, said: “This report reveals the sad reality that the quality of care that patients need and deserve is not being met in many parts of the NHS and social care.”
Louise Ansari, of Healthwatch England, added: “The report echoes many of the issues people have raised with us over recent years."
A Department of Health spokesperson said: “We are delivering on three major recovery plans to improve access to urgent and emergency, primary and elective care, and have made progress to significantly reduce the longest waits.”
Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS medical director, added: “NHS staff faced an unprecedented combination of pressures last year.
“While the NHS has made improvements to maternity services over the last decade, it is also increasing investment to grow our maternity workforce, strengthen leadership and improve culture.”
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