Why Mothers Die when nobody's Saving Mothers' Lives

Mon 13th Aug 2007 by Ben Palmer.

The Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH) publishes triennial reports reviewing all cases of maternal death. The most recently published report, 'Why Mothers Die' is for the period 2000-2002, and I have often quoted (both in these pages and to the press) the statistics it found and also its recommendations, few of which seem to be taken up, as they are repeated report after report in alarmingly consistent language.

The next report, for 2003-2005, is now to be called "Saving Mothers' Lives", as I have just learned from CEMACH's updated website, and it will be published this December.

This sounds to me like spin. The report, by it's very nature, highlights the cases of mothers who have died, not the ones who have had trouble free experiences, or even 'near misses'. If they do plan to discuss cases where the NHS has saved an ill mother, I could let them know of many horrendous near miss stories that have filtered through to me, but I suspect that - whatever the name - it will be the same report on the same causes of the deaths of the mothers that weren't saved.

If this Department of Health sponsored report wants to pat its master on the back, it should do so elsewhere. Jessica's case will (confidentially of course) be included in the statistics, reviews and summaries, and I don't for a moment believe that she will be alone in its 'Genital tract sepsis' pages.

In fact, I highly suspect that there won't be much of an improvement on previous triennia, but I'd love to be wrong. The bottom line, though is that what we and the NHS need to know is Why Mothers Die and how to stop them dying.

Whatever the findings, please let them be acted on this time.

Reminder: the petition closes in mid-October, so there's still time to help it make a difference in advance of December's report.

tags: valley

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What is childbed fever?

Childbed fever is an infection of the womb in new mothers which can lead to septicaemia. If left untreated infection will cause organ failure and death - even in young, fit mothers.
What are the symptoms? »
Childbed fever: the facts »

What's the aim?

We would like every parent and every midwife and doctor to know that childbed fever is still a very real threat to a mother's life.
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Who is Jessica?

Jessica Palmer was a Mum. She died in June 2004, at 34 years old, of childbed fever caused by Group A streptococcus.
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