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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?

Relevant Links

http://www.examiner.co.uk/news/local-west-yorkshire-news/2010/05/05/deighton-train-death-victim-named-86081-26377566/

http://www.help4mums.org/asp/default.asp?pID=1

http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mentalhealthinfo/problems/postnatalmentalhealth/postnataldepression.aspx

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