Clinical Report 2021: Based on births in NHS maternity services in England, Scotland and Wales between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018




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Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology


Technical Report

Peer reviewed



Executive summary Introduction Maternity and perinatal services in the UK are currently subject to a number of maternity and neonatal review programmes, including quality monitoring and improvement initiatives. These programmes focus attention on the quality of care provided by maternity services in the UK at both a national level and the individual trust or board level.1–3 In parallel to the improvement initiatives for clinical care, there are ongoing improvements in the collation and processing of maternity and neonatal data, including improved capture of detailed information about demographics of birthing people and care episodes occurring along the maternity continuum of care. These data are critical to enable evaluation and implementation of improvement strategies. The National Maternity and Perinatal Audit (NMPA) uses these data to produce information that can support the improvement of maternity and perinatal care. In this report, for the first time, the NMPA is using a new centralised data source (MSDS v1.5) for births in England, while continuing to use the established centralised maternity datasets in Scotland and Wales. This report presents measures of maternity and perinatal care based on births in English, Scottish and Welsh NHS services between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018. The report also provides contextual information describing the characteristics of women and babies cared for during this time period and whose data have been included in this report. The limitations of MSDS mean that for births in England the key findings and recommendations made in this report are specific to data quality only. There are insufficient data to draw clinical conclusions. For births in Scotland and Wales, the consistency of the data sources used means that clinical key findings are possible in this report. However, clinical recommendations are avoided for all countries in this report. This is because the NMPA’s next clinical report for births in 2018/19 is expected to be published in early 2022 and will use MSDS data with improved completeness; as a result, it will be able to provide a more comprehensive picture of variation of care across the three countries. Throughout this document we use the term ‘birthing people’ as well as ‘women’. It is important to acknowledge that it is not only people who identify as women who access maternity and gynaecology services. Methods The analysis in this report is based on 304 518 births in NHS maternity services in England, Scotland and Wales between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018.* The report is estimated to have captured 41.5% of eligible births in this time period (34% of births in England, 97% of births in Wales and 100% of births in Scotland). The NMPA makes use of data collected electronically through healthcare information systems and national datasets. Data for births in England are provided by NHS Digital’s Maternity Services Data Set version 1.5 (MSDS v1.5) as well as by Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) records.

  • The time lag between the period covered by this report and its publication is due to the delayed receipt of the MSDS dataset for England. National Maternity and Perinatal Audit: Clinical Report 2021 xi Data for births in Scotland are provided by Public Health Scotland Data and Intelligence (formerly the Information Services Division, ISD), based on data from the Scottish Birth Record and Scottish Morbidity Records (SMR-01 and SMR-02). Linkages to records from the National Records of Scotland (NRS) are also made for births, deaths and stillbirths. Data for births in Wales are provided by the Maternity Indicators dataset (MIds), a dataset managed by the NHS Wales Informatics Service (NWIS), as well as Admitted Patient Care (APC) records from the Patient Episode Database for Wales (PEDW), and some fields from the National Community Child Health Database (NCCHD). In order to compare like with like, the majority of measures are restricted to singleton term births. As a general principle, the denominator for each measure is restricted to women or babies to whom the outcome or intervention of interest is applicable; for example, third or fourth degree tears are only measured among women who have experienced a vaginal birth. Rates of measures are also adjusted for risk factors that are beyond the control of the maternity service, such as age, parity, previous caesarean birth and clinical risk factors that may explain variation in results between organisations. The NHS trusts and boards included in the audit provided intrapartum maternity care at one or more sites. Where possible, site-level results are available on the NMPA website.



National audit, maternity, perinatal, audit


Carroll, F., Coe, M., Dunn, G., Fremeaux, A., Gurol-Urganci, I., Harris, T., Hawdon, J., Heighway, E., Karia, A., Khalil, A., Muller, P., Thomas, L., Waite, L., Webster, K., van der Meulen, J. (2021) National Maternity and Perinatal Audit: Clinical Report 2021. Based on births in NHS maternity services in England, Scotland and Wales between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018. London: RCOG.


Research Institute

Centre for Reproduction Research (CRR)