NHS Service Delivery Issues – how will the new structure reduce maternal death rates ?

NHS Service Delivery Issues – how will the new structure reduce maternal death rates ?

During the past 20yrs Labour has overseen an NHS driven by government targets and performance measure to meet ‘their’ political needs. They talked about providing ‘Patient Choice’ and the ‘Investment’ in raising the quality of services but they have overseen an NHS that sees the implementation of NICE Guidelines and NHS Frameworks as ‘optional extras’.

The result is an NHS that prioritised resource to meet Labour targets failing to follow the risk and safety requirements for many key services such as Mental Health. This has encouraged an endemic and systematic disregard for risk management, resulting in sub-standard patient care and patient lives being put at risk.

A prime example of this is Maternal Mental Health Services. Whilst the government has prioritised a policy of ‘Breast is Best’ pushing women down the route of breast-feeding no assessment was made of the impact and risks on mental health of women who failed to breast feed. As a consequence the incidence of post-natal depression is on the increase. In many regions Mental Health Services are not seen as a priority and the NHS has failed to implement the NICE guidelines on patient care, risk assessments, etc.

Suicide as a result of Post Natal Depression is now the number one cause of Maternal Deaths ahead of obesity and other causes. According to NHS publications Post Natal Depression is an illness where women are expected to fully recover but many women currently suffer for decades after the birth of their child and death rates are increasing! As a patient and as a victim I find this completely unacceptable.

When I lost my wife on 30th April this year over 500 people attended the funeral many of them Doctors, Consultants, Surgeon, Nurses and Patients who had worked with my wife through her 20 year dedicated service to the NHS. Like me they were all asking the same question, how could such a wonderful and dedicated woman be allowed to descend to such a state where she took her own life. The answers will shock them all!

It would have cost less than £20,000 to have my wife committed into hospital for a month to receive the specialist treatment as advised in the NICE guidelines which is what she had requested.  But HER CHOICE was ignored and we were told the preffered treatment was ‘Home Care’ which is not true. The local Mental Health Services team had failed to implement many of the NICE guidelines as a result we never received the information necessary to make an informed choice on treatment. The result after 9 days was my wife died a tragic and violent death. The economic cost for the next 16 yrs will be over £1.2m.

 I watched and waited to hear what and how NHS structures and priorities will change. Having spent 20 years working in large £bn organisations rationalising IT and Financial Services there is a balance to be achieved between cost, quality, performance and RISK. In yesterdays announcement I heard very little regards how performance standards will be raised and risks reduced…… in fact during the transformation risks will increase!

How then will the new Health Minister protect those 6,700 mothers annually whose life’s are put at serious risk each year?

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My wife and mother to our 14-week-old baby girl died on the 30th April, her funeral was attended by over 500 guests (many of them consultants, surgeons, doctors and nurses who had worked with her through her 20 year nursing career at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.


All of them were asking the same question as I have been asking since her death on the 30 April; how could such a wonderful, caring, sensitive and dedicated nursing professional have been allowed to descend into such a desperate state of Post Natal Depression (PND)?


Since her funeral I have investigated the surroundings and issues associated with PND and the severe form my wife was being treated for I have become horrified at the lack or prioritisation given to patients and there carers, the piecemeal implementation of the NICE guidelines and the fact that the highest cause of maternal deaths is now suicides as a result of mental illness (PND). It was 2003 when Dr Margaret Oates authored the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths, which identified that most women with PND died violent deaths, shooting, stabbing, hanging themselves or throwing themselves from high buildings or in front of fast moving vehicles. It was agreed that there was a need for national guidelines for the management of maternal mental health in primary care but since there issuing of the NICE guidelines  “Antenatal and Postnatal Mental Health – Clinical Management and Service Guidance” in 2007 implementation has NOT been fully completed in many regions. Whilst the incidence of Post Natal Depression continues to rise this places an unacceptable number of lives as risk given NHS publications state that most woman should fully recover from Post Natal Depression.


My aim is to inspire & motivate change within The Department of Health, the NHS, NHS Primary Care and providers of Mental Health Services to ensure the full and complete implementation of the NICE guidelines on Post Natal Depression and where necessary advise on changes to policy, guidelines and best practice in order to reduce and minimise the number of maternal deaths each year as a result of postnatal mental health problems.

Article from articlesbase.com

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