The survey included 23,000 women who gave birth between January and March and the findings where possible are compared to the results of the previous national survey completed in 2010.
The survey looked at care provided before birth, during labour and birth, and in the first few weeks after birth and asked questions around access to care, communication, involvement in decision making, continuity and quality of care.
The survey found that:
- There has been an increase in the proportion of women who said that they were always spoken to in a way they could understand during antenatal care and labour and birth
- More women felt that they were always involved during antenatal care and labour and birth
- More women felt that they were treated with kindness and understanding and had confidence and trust in the staff caring for them
However the results also show that:
- Information and support are being provided inconsistently
- Information needed to make choices was not consistently provided and the choices themselves were not universally offered to women
- Almost one in five women felt that their concerns during labour were not taken seriously and some women felt that hospital wards, toilets and bathrooms are not clean enough
Dr David Richmond, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) said:
“This survey questions a large number of women and gives a useful view of women’s experiences of their care at a vital time in their life.
“It is promising to see that more women felt involved in their care and were treated with kindness compared to three years ago. It is vital that women are at the centre of their care and this was emphasised in our official response to the Francis Inquiry. We also strongly believe that obstetricians and gynaecologists must ensure that they interact with their patients with compassion, dignity and respect.
“However, the survey also shows there are areas where improvement is needed. Women should have access to a choice of birth setting and a choice of pain relief. In order to make informed choices women need to be provided with sufficient information and support during their antenatal care.”