World Patient Safety Day 2021: Maternal and Newborn Care

Chantal Knight

As part of World Patient Safety Day 2021, Chantal Knight, Maternity Safety Lead, GMEC Strategic Clinical Network/Health Innovation Manchester has written a blog focussing on maternal and newborn care, the theme for this year’s awareness day on Friday 17th September. In this blog Chantal explores the current state of maternal care and the progress made across the health and care system, as well as what improvements are still needed in order to improve the delivery of this care. 

The objective of World Patient Safety Day is to raise global awareness about patient safety and encourage global solidarity and action. The theme of the second World Patient Safety Day is Maternal and Newborn Care.

This year’s slogan “act now for safe and respectful childbirth” calls on all stakeholders to accelerate the actions necessary for ensuring safe and respectful childbirth. The safety of procedures and the quality of healthcare settings are areas that still lag behind despite significant progress towards this goal in recent years.

Maternal health refers to the health of women during pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period. Each stage should be a positive experience, ensuring women and their babies reach their full potential for health and well-being. Although important progress has been made in the last two decades, about 295 000 women died during and following pregnancy and childbirth in 2017 – this number is unacceptably high.

The most common direct causes of maternal injury and death are excessive blood loss, infection, high blood pressure, unsafe abortion, and obstructed labour, as well as indirect causes such as anemia, malaria, and heart disease. Most maternal deaths are preventable with timely management by a skilled health professional working in a supportive environment.

Ending preventable maternal death must remain at the top of the global agenda. At the same time, simply surviving pregnancy and childbirth can never be the marker of successful maternal health care. It is critical to expand efforts reducing maternal injury and disability to promote health and well-being.

Every pregnancy and birth is unique. Addressing inequalities that affect health outcomes, especially sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender, is fundamental to ensuring all women have access to respectful and high-quality maternity care.

In this special edition of the Maternity Safety Newsletter you will find national updates, international statistics and clinicians with important safety messages. There is so much great work going on in the maternity safety arena across Greater Manchester and East Cheshire (GMEC) and we should be proud of what we are trying to do to protect women and their families from avoidable harm in their pregnancy journey.

The webinar will take place from 09:00 to 10:00 on Friday 17th September and is open to anyone to register Improving patient safety in NHS maternity and neonatal care (

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