Two of the region's hospitals have earned praise for their approaches to maternity services in the face of widespread struggles in the sector.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn both received favourable results in a survey conducted by the Care Quality Commission.

It comes at a time when maternity services are facing growing pressures, with midwives holding protests last year over long hours, staff shortages and unfavourable working conditions.

Last month, this newspaper reported that in the last year stretched hospitals in Norfolk paid out a record £16m in damages for maternity errors, sparking concerns about pressures midwives are being placed under.

But the results of the surveys show that most patients cared for during their pregnancies felt respected and had confidence and trust in those providing that care.

The study gathered the experiences of parents who welcomed children at the two hospitals in January and February 2021, during the midst of Covid lockdown. The James Paget in Gorleston did not participate, as too few babies were born during the sample period.

Parents who were cared for at the QEH told how they felt they were given ample time and opportunity to ask questions and discuss their pregnancies.

The hospital's scores improved in a number of areas, including the confidence and trust patients had in the staff and the involvement of partners during the birthing process.

Likewise, the NNUH's team saw improvements, scoring 9.4 out of 10 for treating patients with respect and dignity, while nine out of 10 respondents said they had confidence and trust in staff.

Amanda Price-Davey, head of midwifery at QEH, added: “This is a testament to our commitment to keeping families together and ensuring partners could attend hospital to offer support during labour and birth.”

Stephanie Pease, divisional midwifery director at the NNUH, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has been a hugely challenging period for our service users and our maternity teams, and these results are testament to the dedication and hard work of our midwives, doctors, managers and support workers who are committed to providing a safe and effective service.

"Over the last 12 months, we’ve significantly reduced midwifery vacancy rates, have a substantive leadership team in place as well as new digital midwife and fetal surveillance midwife.

"We have a range of quality improvement projects, including a specialist maternal medicine centre, improving our website and information sharing, listening to our service users and improving multi-disciplinary training for our staff.”

Key results

The NNUH was rated as "about the same" when compared with other trusts in 48 out of 50 categories.

It scored above the national average for the amount of relevant information parents were given about feeding their babies.

However, it scored somewhat worse than expected for the amount of advice it gave parents in the first six week's of their child's lives.

The QEH scored "about the same" as other trusts in the country in 44 of the 50 questions asked, with six categories exceeding the others.

The trust was particularly praised for giving patients enough time to ask questions during antenatal check-ups, which was rated as "much better than expected".

It also scored highly in how patients were listened to in antenatal check-ups and the involvement of partners.


The difficulties experienced by maternity services not just locally, but nationally, are well publicised.

Last year, midwives across the country took to the streets in protest of working conditions they have been forced to endure.

Staff shortages have meant that midwives are faced with long hours, intense working conditions and constant exhaustion.

However, they are a special breed, driven by the desire to help people and deliver care.

When any workplace heaps such demand on their employees, you will occasionally see mistakes made and sometimes lofty expectations may not be met.

But the positive outcomes of these surveys are vindication for those who have soldiered on throughout this unprecedented period.

While there is clearly still room for improvement, clearly issues are being addressed.