Displaced risk. Keeping mothers and babies safe: a UK ambulance service lens

Heys, Stephanie, Main, Camella, Humphreys, Aimee and Torrance, Rachael (2023) Displaced risk. Keeping mothers and babies safe: a UK ambulance service lens. British Paramedic Journal, 8 (2). pp. 52-56.

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.29045/14784726.2023.


Aim: The aim of this professional practice paper is to provide a critical commentary on displaced risk among perinatal and neonatal patients attended to by the ambulance service.

Background: NHS services across the United Kingdom are currently facing unprecedented demand and increased scrutiny in their ability to provide safe and personalised care to patients. While current focus in the system centres around addressing social care demand, hospital bed capacity, planned care waiting times, staffing and ambulance handover delays, a less explored cohort of patients impacted by the current healthcare crisis is perinatal and neonatal populations attended to by the ambulance service. Little focus has been paid within national agendas to the care provided to women and babies outside of planned maternity and obstetric care. A case is presented to highlight the importance of considering urgent and emergency maternity care provision provided by the ambulance service, and the impact of ‘displaced risk’ due to the current pressures within healthcare systems.

Conclusion: Placed in a national context, drawing upon current independent reviews into maternity services, national transformation agendas and the most recent MBRRACE-UK confidential enquiry into maternal deaths and morbidity, a case is made to commissioners and Integrated Care Systems to focus on and invest in the unplanned pre-hospital care of maternity and neonatal patients. Recognition of the ambulance service as a key provider of care to this cohort of patients is paramount, calling on services and systems to work together on realising and addressing displaced risk for perinatal populations across the United Kingdom. A system approach that acknowledges the need for high-quality care at every point of contact and equitability in access to services for pregnant, postpartum and neonatal patients is vital.

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