Obesity and a shortage of NHS midwives are major contributors to a huge rise in the number of women who die giving birth.  The rate has soared by 50 per cent since the Eighties.  A total of 295 died between 2003 and 2005 – leaving 520 children without mothers. The maternal death rate is 14 per 100,000 births


A study out tomorrow says many women die needlessly because doctors are too poorly trained to spot potential problems.

The shortage of midwives and consultants means mothers are often left in the hands of juniors.

The report Saving Mothers’ Lives, by the Confidential Inquiry into Maternal and Child Health, puts much of the blame for the rise on increasing obesity.

The group, which is run by eight royal colleges including the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said half the women who died were overweight, while one in seven were morbidly obese.

Cases related to heart disease have doubled since 2002, becoming the main cause of death.

The report says this "reflects the growing incidence of acquired heart disease in younger women related to poor diets, smoking, alcohol and the growing epidemic of obesity". It called for overweight women who wanted children to receive counselling on the NHS to improve their lifestyle.

And it condemns "the number of healthcare professionals who appeared to fail to identify and manage common medical conditions or potential emergencies outside their area of expertise".

Doctors had poor resuscitation skills in an "unacceptably high" number of cases, causing women to die who could have been saved.

Experts warn the lack of 5,000 midwives and 900 consultants mean many tasks are done by poorly-trained staff.

Beverley Beech, of the Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services, said she could "confidently state many crucial aspects" of maternity care "are far worse than they have ever been" since the group began 40 years ago.

Tory health spokesman Andrew Lansley said: "We should be moving in a direction where deaths are reducing rather than rising."

Rising deaths were also linked to deprivation, more mothers delaying pregnancy and a high influx of migrant mothers. Black African women are six times as likely to die as the average.

Louise Silverton, of the Royal College of Midwives, said: "We’ve got to aim for all women to be happy with their care but we will struggle unless the chronic shortage of midwives is addressed."

Health Minister Ann Keen said: "The report shows maternal deaths are extremely rare in the UK."

Via: Daily Mail