New mums happy with Norfolk and Suffolk maternity services

Most mothers are happy with the service maternity units in Norfolk and Suffolk deliver, according to the biggest-ever survey of its kind.

More than 25,000 women were questioned in the wide-ranging study of NHS hospital services across the country and 92pc ranked their overall care as good, very good or excellent.

The Care Quality Commission asked women about all aspects of maternity care, including care during labour and birth, explanation of scans and midwife visits.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital at King's Lynn and the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital (N&N) beat the national average with a 97pc rating, while the James Paget University Hospital at Gorleston and the West Suffolk Hospital at Bury St Edmunds scored at 95pc.

When it came to confidence in staff, the Queen Elizabeth and James Paget got 99pc while the West Suffolk and the N&N were rated at 98pc.

N&N head of midwifery Glynis Moore said: 'We welcome the new CQC maternity survey and we'll be studying the results to see where we can improve our services. We're pleased that we're in the top 20pc nationally for offering women a home birth, women being able to get comfortable during labour, being involved in decisions about their care and for being treated with kindness and understanding.'

Each month the N&N also surveys 200 women and over the last three months 100pc of women (sample of 606 women) who gave birth on the delivery suite said they would recommend the hospital to friends and family.

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A James Paget spokesman said: 'The figures relating to the trust are positive overall and within the expected ranges. We perform well in areas such as antenatal care and the service our staff provide during labour and birth.

'Over the next few months we will be extending our popular antenatal workshops to a weekly service and we will be introducing a midwifery-led birthing unit which will offer more choice to expectant mothers.'

The main area of concern in the national report was that one in five women felt alone during labour or birth.

CQC chief executive, Cynthia Bower, said: 'This reported improvement in antenatal care is encouraging, but sadly it is not mirrored in the care provided during labour and birth.

'While many women report feeling involved in their care, it is particularly concerning that over a fifth of women are left alone during labour or birth when it worries them and it seems too many are not being encouraged to take more active birthing positions.'

Cathy Warwick, general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, said: 'Overall, the report is encouraging. It shows improvements and suggests that the investment in maternity services by the previous government has begun to pay welcome dividends.

'The increase in the number of women seeing a midwife first is particularly welcome. However, some of the findings show that there is still much to do, in areas such as the provision of antenatal education, high quality care in labour and ensuring appropriate advice and support in the postnatal period.'

The survey came as public health minister Anne Milton launched a new comparison service for expectant parents. It will enable people to compare and rate maternity services across the NHS. The site can be found at www.nhs.uk and will include opening times, people's views on the service and how they were treated by staff.

The CQC report can be seen via the website: www.cqc.org.uk.