A national survey of support and counselling after maternal death

Anaesthesia. 2009 Nov;64(11):1211-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2044.2009.06064.x.


The 2000-2002 Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health report highlighted several cases of maternal death where the staff who had been involved, were not offered support. The report recommended that 'Trusts must make provision for the prompt offer of support and/or counselling for all staff who have cared for a woman who has died.' We conducted a postal survey to firstly establish whether Trusts had implemented this, and also to ascertain the experience of consultant obstetric anaesthetists. Of 706 respondents (response rate 64%), 60% involved in a maternal death or other traumatic event received no offer of support, 65% were unaware of potential sources of support and only 5% received details of further help available. Furthermore, 69% were unaware of policies within their own Trusts for the provision of support services. We suggest that a formal structure should exist within all units that offers confidential support services and/or debriefing facilities to all staff involved in a maternal death or other traumatic event.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia, Obstetrical / mortality
  • Attitude to Death*
  • Counseling / supply & distribution*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Maternal Mortality*
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control
  • Occupational Health Services / supply & distribution*
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology