Ensuring pregnant women with COVID-19 symptoms access appropriate care

Through its targeted surveillance of emerging COVID-19 issues recorded on national systems, such as the National Reporting and Learning System (NRLS), the new Learn from Patient Safety Events service (LFPSE), and other sources, the National Patient Safety Team identified issues around ensuring pregnant women with COVID-19 symptoms access appropriate care.

Several incidents were identified in the NRLS highlighting confusion as to where pregnant women should attend if unwell with COVID-19 symptoms. The team’s review found some women who were unwell, but with no concerns regarding their pregnancy, were being advised to attend a maternity unit, when the more appropriate place would have been the emergency department.

Pregnant women needing to attend hospital, should be signposted to the most appropriate place to receive the right level of care. If they have concerns about their pregnancy, this is usually the maternity department. If they are unwell with certain medical complaints, it might be more appropriate for them to attend an emergency department.

The team worked with the National Clinical Director for Obstetrics and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to ensure this was clearly stated in the relevant COVID-19 guidance. This was also discussed with the College of Paramedics and circulated to all ambulance services.

About our patient safety review and response work

The recording and central collection of patient safety events to support learning and improvement is fundamental to improving patient safety across all parts of NHS healthcare.

A core part of the work of the National Patient Safety Team is to review these records to identify new or under recognised patient safety risks, which are often not obvious at a local level. In response to any newly identified risks, we develop advice and guidance, such as National Patient Safety Alerts, or work directly with partners as in the example above, to support providers across the NHS to take the necessary action to keep patients safe.

You can find out more about our processes for identifying new and under recognised patient safety issues on our using patient safety events data to keep patients safe and reviewing patient safety events and developing advice and guidance web pages.

You can also find more case studies providing examples of this work on our case study page.