Maternity services are 'postcode lottery' where training is as important as funding, MP claims

  • What needs to be done to improve maternity care was discussed in the latest of Granada Reports' monthly political programme, The Granada Debate

Training and the those who run maternity care are as much to blame for a recent damning report into services as funding is, an MP has claimed.

The parliamentary inquiry into birth trauma has called for a national plan to improve maternity care after it heard "harrowing" evidence from thousands of women.

More than 1,300 women gave testimony to the inquiry, which, according to the report's authors, found "poor care is all frequently tolerated as normal, and women are treated as an inconvenience".

The all-party inquiry, led by Conservative MP Theo Clarke and Labour MP Rosie Duffield, published its findings on Monday 13 May.

While many blame a lack of NHS funding for the failures, Conservative MP for Bury North James Daly believes training, and how hospitals and wards are run are also a fundamental issue.

"The report says there is excellent practice going on throughout the country," he said. "The problem is a postcode lottery.

"To make blanket statements in respect to this is not right.

"In terms of the budgets, in terms of services, hospitals are providing a fantastic service, but not all of them are and we have to get to the heart of that.

"The question I want to have asked is this - if it is to do with the government then fine - but what I want to know is why is it that some places can provide an excellent service with the same level funding, and others can't, what's the reason for that?

"That's all that I say in terms of looking at this on a hospital by a hospital basis.

“I think the individual responsibility not only comes from the amount of money you put into something, but the level of training the management, and the service that women get in each individual hospital."

Mr Daly was speaking as part of ITV Granada Reports' monthly political programme The Granada Debate where he was joined by Ashley Dalton Labour MP for West Lancashire and Councillor Carl Cashman, Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool.

In a heated exchange with his Conservative counterpart Mr Cashman said

"It is disappointing, but you know we can all be easily critical and in these instances you know it's right to be critical, but at the same time you know these services are under massive strain and I would say the main factor is underfunding for a very, very long."

Mr Daly replied: "You absolutely do not know that, you don't know the personal experiences that people go through, don't make a trite political point.

"You don't know what's going on in terms of training in hospitals, you don't know the different things going, so to simply throw out that it's all about money is doing it an injustice."

James Daly MP and Carl Cashman clash during The Granada Debate

Speaking of the report Ms Dalton said it made for "harrowing reading", adding: "I think the Conservatives need to take some responsibility for this because it's been on their watch."

She added: "The stories that people have shared, and been courageous enough to share, are really moving.

"But you know it is appalling to read what some people have been through, and I think this hasn't happened overnight, we've had 14 years of Conservative government.

"It has got worse and worse, it's a whole host of things.

"There's a list of recommendations in that report which we're looking, at some of which are already Labor Party policy.

"For instance recruiting more midwives, doing better training, and making sure there is continuity of care, particularly through digitising health records and that sort of thing, and we're going to be looking at those other recommendations really closely to see what we could do."

An all-parliamentary inquiry into birth trauma was published this week Credit: ITV News Meridian

Mr Daly also spoke personally of his experiences with his wife as she gave birth to their two children.

"For many of us this is personal as well as a political and practical decision," he said.

"I have two children, during the birth of my eldest child, my wife lost a lot of blood, and an emergency C-section was required.

"I remember when my son was born my wife was unable to hold him, and was very poorly for a time.

"We were lucky we were in a position we were able to try for a second child, four days before she gave birth she had a TIA, a mini stroke, prior to that birth.

"It's very difficult to put myself in the position of someone who is in the physical act of giving birth but as a family member who witnessed something like that then pre and post-natal care is absolutely fundamental.

"The one thing we forget about this is that the consequences of what happens in that period - not just in terms of the lady who is giving birth but potentially for the child - are lifelong, and therefore the investment that is required in the services before giving birth and after giving birth and the support that new mums need is absolutely fundamental."

The programme also touched on proposals to build a new "Wembley of the North" and who should pay for it, after Manchester United's new co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe met with Sir Keir Starmer at the ground.

The Labour leader is believed to have been a guest of Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, who is a member of the task force exploring options for how to revitalise United’s home ground.

Mr Burnham was also present at the talks ahead of kick-off along with Lord Coe, chair of the Old Trafford Regeneration Task Force.

The club says the aim of the task force is to bring together local leaders and national experts to examine how stadium development can support renewal the area of the city.

But, in another heated exchange between panelists, the issue of whether taxpayer's money should be used to fund it was discussed.

Panelists also discussed the outcome of the local elections, and what each party should make of the results.

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