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Evaluation of the Care Quality Commission’s maternity inspection programme


There have been several reviews and inquiries in recent years which have raised concerns about the safety of maternity care in some organisations in England.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC), the independent regulator of health and adult social care in England, is conducting a national maternity inspection programme in response to these concerns. THIS Institute is conducting a dedicated evaluation alongside the inspection programme to help inform approaches to inspecting, analysing, and supporting safety culture in maternity services in the future.

Equity and engagement are issues which impact safety in maternity care, as evidenced by the three-fold difference in maternal mortality rate among Black women and almost two-fold difference among women from Asian backgrounds compared to white women, and the impact of deprivation and multiple disadvantage on maternal outcomes. The evaluation is committed to accounting for these issues.


We’ll be using a mixed methods approach to learning from the national maternity inspection programme.

  • We’ll use rapid literature reviews to set out the key messages from the existing research, and other sources, about what good looks like in maternity safety, from the perspectives of maternity service users, staff, inspectors, and others, and in relation to the inspection and regulation of healthcare services.
  • We will interview people who have important perspectives on the programme (including programme , inspectors, maternity staff and service users) and review documents that relate to the inspection programme to look at how the inspections are intended to work – and how they work in practice.
  • We will engage with maternity service users. We will also conduct a survey to hear views from wider stakeholders. The workshops and the survey will enrich our understanding of how to get the most useful and thorough insight from maternity inspection.

The evaluation will incorporate recommendations arising from all these activities and produce practical outputs to make the most of inspection for the benefit of maternity services and service users.

With thanks to the advisory group:

  1. Zenab Barry
  2. Tim Draycott
  3. Victoria Komolafe
  4. Susanna Stamford
  5. Devender Roberts
  6. Tony Kelly 
  7. Teresa Kelly

Funding and ethics

This study is funded by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), and by the Health Foundation’s grant to The Healthcare Improvement Studies Institute (THIS Institute). It is independently led by THIS Institute and RAND Europe. The study was reviewed by the University of Cambridge Psychology Research Ethics Committee.

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