Maternity Services are not Learning From Mistakes According to Ombudsman

By Nikki Ealey


A new report has been released by the Health Service Ombudsman which focuses on maternity services and indicates that the same mistakes are occurring and not enough is changing in maternity services despite some of the major reviews in recent years. The report includes stories of women’s experiences in maternity service failures and survey data showing that the number of positive experiences has declined and the majority of women do not feel like they are listened to when raising concerns about their care.

The report by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman can be found here:

The common themes in these failings are around diagnosis, communication and aftercare.  In particular, the failings are often the same as those which have been highlighted in some of the major recent maternity service reviews including the Morecambe Bay investigation from 2015 and the Ockenden review from 2022.

As the head of the PHSO Rob Behrens commented, expectant parents are still being failed in the same ways. The maternity services do not appear to be learning or making changes when complaints are raised and acknowledged. Whilst there may have been some changes and investment in improvement, they are not sufficient or sustainable in the long-term. The changes needed at this stage would have to be significant in order to restore the trust and faith that parents should be able to rely on when seeking this care and treatment.

The purpose of the report is to help explain what parents can do to refer a complaint when they experience such a failing. Often complaints are referred to the PHSO because referrers want to ensure that other patients do not receive the same care. But the PHSO cannot investigate without a complaint being made to direct them to the care.

It is therefore important to complain to the Trust initially, and then refer the matter to the PHSO if appropriate. The team here at Nockolds are supporting complainants in understanding the process and how to raise concerns constructively. My colleagues and I are here to advise if you have a concern regarding maternity or ante-natal care, or if you fear any failing you have experienced may go as far as being negligent, please get in touch for an initial review and discussion with me or one of the team.

For further information on any matters raised in this article or any related queries, please contact us on 0345 646 0406 or fill in our online enquiry form and a member of our team will be in touch.