The Health Secretary admitted she experienced ‘the darker corners of the NHS’ when expecting her son as she vowed to improve maternity services.

Victoria Atkins said was determined to stop women ‘facing the fear’ she endured when about to give birth in 2011.

Speaking at the Women’s Health Summit in London Ms Atkins, a type 1 diabetic, spoke of how complications at the end of her pregnancy left her sharing a ward with new mothers who suffered ‘hellish agony’ and birth trauma.

This ‘frightening’ experience gave her a personal insight into the ‘deeply worrying’ situation facing gar too many women.

She said: ‘For me, this is personal. The NHS diagnosed me with 12 on diabetes at the age of three. And so I have seen the very best of the NHS, but I’ve also seen some of its dark corners.

‘But one of the darker corners was when I was pregnant, the clinicians in the room will understand that pregnancy of type one diabetes can be a very medicalized process. And then came a point in the pregnancy where it became clear that baby was going to have to be delivered early.

‘And so I was rushed into hospital and the hospital which had done amazingly well simply did not at that point, have the facilities to look after someone who was very early in pregnancy but also with complications.

‘So they put me on a ward with women who had just given birth literally rushed from the theatre and who had had very traumatic experiences.

‘You will understand how deeply worrying and dare I say frightening it was to sit to be lying in that board with women who had a hellish experience, who were in agony.’

The event marked the second year of the Women’s Health Strategy, a ten-year blueprint aiming to break down obstacles women face in healthcare, with Ms Atkins describing it as a ‘feminist’s Christmas’.

Setting out policies to boost maternity care, including a £50m fund to improve outcomes, she said she wanted maternity care that every mother can have faith in.

Other points include better care for menstrual problems, more women’s health hubs offering more treatments, improving fairness and tackling inequalities and disparities and more research into the health needs of women.

Describing her experience, she told the meeting of clinicians, and women’s health campaigners that she is determined to improve maternity services.

She added: ‘Looking back. I know that everybody was doing their best, but I desperately want to ensure that women who are expecting and who find themselves needing a bit of extra help that they’re not in that situation and they’re not, they’re not facing the fear that I faced.

‘And so as I say, I absolutely get it, and it is very much personal for me.

It comes after a report last week revealed women are dying during pregnancy, childbirth and the weeks following at the same rates as two decades ago.

Experts said the upward trend is the most compelling evidence yet that failures now span ‘across the entire maternity system’ and is ‘not just one or two hospitals.’

Highlighting the report, Ms Atkins highlighted said there had been 293 deaths of women in pregnancy or within 42 days of the end of pregnancy in the three years between 2020 and 2022.

She said: ‘That number means that 293 families are grieving the profound loss of a mother who will also be someone’s daughter, partner, wife, sister or friend and their babies who have lived while their loss is indescribable.

‘They will never know more of their mothers cuddle or the tinkle of her laughter, or do the limitless love we have for our children.

‘Now that all of these deaths are linked to poor maternity care, but many will be. And this must stop.’

You May Also Like

Brixham outbreak: 'Hundreds' fall ill in seaside town as probe launched

Brixham locals have reported a selection of symptoms including severe diarrhoea (Image:…

Bug sweeping UK as Government issues ‘don’t go to work’ warning

People are being urged not to go to work or school due…

Heart failure daily pill a 'beacon of hope' for thousands of sufferers

A pioneering drug that targets a life-threatening heart condition is “a beacon…

Obesity campaigner calls for firms to adopt Japan-style approach of measuring WAISTS of employees in bid to keep staff slim as shock report finds obese workers are twice as likely to be long-term sick

Brits should be made to have their waistlines measured at work, according…