Editor: Don’t just promise change… take stock, listen and care

Today’s news about the state of maternity services on offer to Sheffield’s women and babies will worry all mums-to-be. I hope it shocks us all because it really should.

Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 6:46 am
The first moments of mother and newborn after childbirth
The first moments of mother and newborn after childbirth

A catalogue of failings were found at Jessops when inspectors called but, most tragically of all, they probably won’t surprise midwives and families who have experienced these problems first hand.

This is one of those classic cases where knowledge causes concerns, and extra stress is the last thing any pregnant woman needs. But it isn’t the fact we now all know the extent of the issues that should be worrying hospital bosses as they desperately try to reassure us. We don't want to be told things will get better or that they have, even before the staff who must make the changes have been informed of the detail.

We need reflection, improvements and for those at the top to hear messages which seem very easily missed. How did they not see such an enormous decline in services for themselves? Do they actually listen to those who are running through the labour wards at breakneck speeds or trying desperately to care for too many women? Today, that question is painfully rhetorical.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The only way Jessops can offer the care women deserve and that which midwives want to give, is to listen to those who do the job and use the service. No doubt it’ll mean changing things, managing things differently and investing more, but what matters more than birth?

It isn't just Jessops or Sheffield – our NHS is disintegrating before our eyes. In my experience, openness and transparency do not always come naturally to those who run the NHS. That is particularly ironic because it has never been their health service, it belongs to all of us. They are entrusted to protect it – not to shield it from criticism or defend it from those who ask for better. That goes for politicians too. I truly fear the best thing about the UK will be unrecognisable or non-existent for my grandchildren, if not sooner.

Finally, a reminder to those who must make women feel better about giving birth in Sheffield. Becoming a mum isn't a medical procedure – they aren’t ill. And with consistent care from midwives who they are able to build up a relationship with … most do it just fine.