The [Care Quality Commission] found 65% [of maternity services] are regarded as inadequate or require improvement, up from 54% last year.
A now-corrected report in the Mirror, and a segment on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour [3:40], missed a significant detail from a Care Quality Commission (CQC) report about maternity care in England.
CQC inspections published up to September 2023 found that 65% of maternity services were inadequate or required improvement regarding safety specifically—not overall. When considering overall performance, based on several categories, it found that 49% were inadequate or required improvement.
Hospital inspections by the CQC give ratings on five categories—whether the service being inspected is Safe, Effective, Caring, Responsive and Well-led—as well as an overall rating.
The full data by inspection category is published in the CQC data directory, although it needs to be analysed to replicate these figures. The proportion of maternity services rated inadequate on safety does appear in a CQC report. The CQC told Full Fact that it presented more detailed data at an online press conference, but that the 65% figure wasn’t published in the associated report.
Its figures are based on ratings published over several years, so the quality of the service may have changed since the inspections were carried out.
The fact that the figure referred to safety specifically was missing from a report in the Mirror, which corrected the article online and published a correction in its print edition following contact from Full Fact.
The same detail was missing from an item on Woman’s Hour on Radio 4. The programme told us: “In light of this clarification from the CQC, we acknowledge that we should have included the word ‘safety’ to make clear that we were specifically referring to that particular aspect of the CQC’s inspections.
“CQC Chief Exec Ian Trenholm was on Woman’s Hour to discuss the recent report and listeners were able to hear directly from him on the report’s finding as well as from Dr Daghni Rajasingham, speaking on behalf of the Royal College of Obstetricians, about the need for improvement in maternity care.”
The media should take care to report data as precisely as possible.
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We took a stand for good information.
As detailed in our fact check, The Mirror amended its online article and published a correction in its print edition.
Woman's Hour told us: “In light of this clarification from the CQC, we acknowledge that we should have included the word ‘safety’ to make clear that we were specifically referring to that particular aspect of the CQC’s inspections.
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