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Quality of care provided in two Scottish rural community maternity units: a retrospective case review.

Denham, Sara; Humphrey, Tracy; Taylor, Ruth


Sara Denham

Tracy Humphrey

Ruth Taylor


Background: Women in Scotland with uncomplicated pregnancies are encouraged by professional bodies and national guidelines to access community based models of midwife-led care for their labour and birth. The evidence base for these guidelines relates to comparisons of predominantly urban birth settings in England. There appears to be little evidence available about the quality of the care during the antenatal, birth and post birth periods available for women within the Scottish Community Maternity Unit (CMU) model. The research aim was to explore the safety and effectiveness of the maternity services provided at two rural Community Maternity Units in Scotland, both 40 miles by main road access from a tertiary obstetric unit. Methods: Following appropriate NHS and University ethical approval, an anonymous retrospective review of consecutive maternity records for all women who accessed care at the CMUs over a 12 month period (June 2011 to May 2012) was undertaken in 2013 - 14. Data was extracted using variables chosen to provide a description of the socio-demographics of the cohort and the process and outcomes of the care provided. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics. Results: Regarding effectiveness, the correct care pathway was allocated to 97.5% of women, early access to antenatal care achieved by 95.7% of women, 94.8% of women at one CMU received continuity of carer and 78.6% of those clinically eligible accessed care in labour. 11.9% were appropriately transferred to obstetrician-led care antenatally and 16.9% were transferred in labour. All women received one-to one care in labour and 67.1% of babies born at the CMUs were breastfed at birth. Regarding safety, severe morbidity for women was rare, perineal trauma of 3rd degree tear occurred for 0.3% of women and 1.0% experienced an episiotomy. Severe post partum haemorrhage occurred for 0.3% of women. Babies admitted to the Neonatal unit were discharged within 48 hrs. Conclusion: These findings support the recommendations of professional bodies and national guidelines. Maternity service provision at rural CMUs achieved a consistently high standard of safety and effectiveness when measured against national standards and international evidence.


DENHAM, S., HUMPHREY, T. and TAYLOR, R. 2017. Quality of care provided in two Scottish rural community maternity units: a retrospective case review. BMC pregnancy and childbirth [online], 17, article 198. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 6, 2017
Online Publication Date Jun 21, 2017
Publication Date Dec 31, 2017
Deposit Date Jul 7, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jul 7, 2017
Journal BMC pregnancy and childbirth
Electronic ISSN 1471-2393
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 17
Pages 198
Keywords Rural maternity care; Safe maternity care; Effective maternity care; Midwifeled care; Maternity collaboration
Public URL


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