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Maternity incentive scheme

Please refer to our Safety and Learning responding to Covid-19 page for latest updates on the maternity incentive scheme and Early Notification scheme.

If contact details have changed for your nominated maternity incentive scheme leads please let us know here.

Maternity safety is an important issue for all members of our Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts (CNST). Obstetric incidents can be catastrophic and life-changing, with related claims representing the scheme’s biggest area of spend. Of the clinical negligence claims notified to us in 2018/19, obstetrics claims represented 10 percent (1,068) of clinical claims by number, but accounted for 50 per cent of the total value of new claims, £2,465.5 million of the total £4,931.8 million.

The Maternity Safety Strategy set out the Department of Health and Social Care’s ambition to reward those who have taken action to improve maternity safety. We are very happy to support this work through the maternity incentive scheme.

Background to the scheme

Now in its third year, the maternity incentive scheme supports the delivery of safer maternity care through an incentive element to trusts contributions to the CNST.  The scheme, developed in partnership with he national maternity safety champions, Dr Matthew Jolly and Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent OBE, rewards trusts that meet ten safety actions designed to improve the delivery of best practice in maternity and neonatal services.  In the third year, the scheme will further incentivise the ten maternity safety actions from the previous year with some further refinement.

The 10 safety actions

The ten safety actions for year three have been agreed with the national maternity safety champions in partnership with the Collaborative Advisory Group (CAG). The CAG was established by NHS Resolution to bring together other arm’s length bodies and the Royal Colleges to support the delivery of the CNST maternity incentive scheme and has also advised NHS Resolution on the refined safety actions. Members of the group include: the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS Digital, NHS England, NHS Improvement, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Royal College of Midwives, Mothers and Babies: Reducing Risk through Audits and Confidential Enquiries (MBRRACE), Royal College of Anaesthetists, and the Care Quality Commission.

How the scheme works

Provision for the maternity incentive scheme has been built into our CNST maternity pricing for 2020/21. As in year two, the scheme incentivises ten maternity safety actions. Trusts that can demonstrate they have achieved all of the ten safety actions will recover the element of their contribution to the CNST maternity incentive fund and will also receive a share of any unallocated funds.

Trusts that do not meet the ten-out-of-ten threshold will not recover their contribution to the CNST maternity incentive fund, but may be eligible for a small discretionary payment from the scheme to help them to make progress against actions they have not achieved. Such a payment would be at a much lower level than the 10% contribution to the incentive fund.

All participating trusts are required to provide clinical and financial contacts to receive and send communications relating to the maternity incentive scheme.

How the scheme is managed

Whilst the maternity incentive scheme is a self-certified scheme, with all scheme submissions requiring sign-off by trust Boards following conversations with trust commissioners, all submissions also undergo an external verification process and are sense-checked by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Further information

The full details of year three of the scheme, including the conditions, ten safety actions, supporting technical guidance, frequently asked questions is available. The scheme details were originally sent to members on Friday 20 December 2019, we have made some minor amendments to the document which was republished on Thursday 6 February 2020 – for ease we have provided an overview of changes. An updated Board declaration form and action plan will be available in due course.

We have carried out an interim evaluation of the maternity incentive scheme, incorporating feedback from NHS trust maternity services and identifying key outcomes from the scheme to date.

For further information on the maternity incentive scheme please contact, or on the Early Notification scheme please contact

You can find more information on the results of year one and year two of the maternity incentive scheme below.

year one: results overview

year one: results regional breakdown

year two: results overview

year two: results regional breakdown

year one and year two: trust re-confirmation log

interim evaluation

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