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Pregnant women are waiting up to five days before they can be induced due to a shortage of maternity staff, a report has found.

Inspectors and managers have identified problems at 10 hospitals as delays put women and their babies at risk.

Seven of these have received warnings from the Care Quality Commission since last year and three have reported problems in the governing documents.

In some cases, women classified as ‘high risk’ had to wait up to five days for an induction – the artificial inducing of labor.

The procedure is encouraged when babies are overdue, or when there are risks to mother and baby due to conditions such as high blood pressure, or because the baby is not growing.

Pregnant women are waiting up to five days before they can be induced due to a shortage of maternity staff, a report has found (stock image)

In other cases, women had to wait more than 48 hours after the start of the process before they could be transferred to the delivery room.

The CQC, the healthcare regulator, said earlier this month that more than 1,300 ‘red flags’ had been raised at the University Hospitals of Leicester Trust in a five-month period due to delays in introducing labor linked to staffing levels.

Carolyn Jenkinson, deputy director of secondary and specialist healthcare at the CQC, told the Health Service Journal: ‘At some maternity units we have noticed women having to wait long periods of time to be induced or having to go to a labor and delivery unit after induction. had to be transferred. process has begun, and in some cases a lack of effective supervision during periods of delay.

‘Where we have found concerns about delayed treatment – ??including induction of labor – we have made it clear to these trusts that effective monitoring of the issue is crucial and that all possible action must be taken to limit any risk and protect the people who use the service to keep it safe. ‘

In June, the CQC found eight high-risk women at Blackpool Victoria Hospital waited up to five days to be admitted amid a serious shortage of midwives.

And following an inspection in April, Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust University Hospitals were told to ensure there was a clear protocol for identifying women for priority introductions, with a sixth of introductions postponed, largely as a result of staffing.

Inspectors and managers have identified problems at ten hospitals amid concerns the delays are putting women and their babies at risk (stock image)

Inspectors and managers have identified problems at ten hospitals amid concerns the delays are putting women and their babies at risk (stock image)

The proportion of births nationally that are induced has risen from 22 per cent in 2011/12 to 33 per cent in 2021/22, according to NHS Digital.

Birte Harlev-Lam, executive director of midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives, said: ‘Safety comes first, so midwives should only induce labor if there is a midwife available to support the woman and a bed in the labor ward.

‘It is inevitable that, given the known staffing and resource problems in maternity care, there may sometimes be delays. That is why effective supervision by midwives is so important.’

The Leicester Trust said it had set its own ‘red flag’ bar locally so any delays did not constitute a national alert and the Morecambe Bay Trust said any introduction delays of more than four hours would be assessed by an experienced doctor.

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