Who are we?
Maternity Voices (King's Lynn and Wisbech) is an independent group supported by the charity Community Action Norfolk. We tell the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and local health decision-makers about your experiences of maternity services and how these could be improved, so that you get the service you want locally.
For us maternity services go beyond the hospital, including home births as well as antenatal and postnatal services provided by community midwives, health visitors, physiotherapists and others.
Sharing your experiences has enabled Maternity Voices to work with the hospital and partners to deliver meaningful changes, as demonstrated below. To view full details in our 2016-17 Annual Report click here.
Home Birth Service
A number of service users and service user representatives within the group have been campaigning passionately over the last few years to see a home birth service reinstated in West Norfolk. Providing a forum for those with concerns about home birth in West Norfolk to gather information and support, share their views and challenge decisions.
In November 2016, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s Board of Directors agreed to introduce a new ‘Midwifery Led Pathway’ (this aims to ensure a less clinical approach to support is taken for women with low risk pregnancies) including the reinstatement of a home birth service. The service was formally relaunched in February 2017 with an expanded staff team and a number of deliveries have already taken place at home.
The Midwifery Led Pathway has been designed with a view to increasing continuity of carer, providing a midwife buddying system so that support should consistently be coming from a familiar small group of midwives, if not always from the same individual.
The group have been keen to explore how more can be done to encourage and support women in having an active birth, where women are encouraged to be active rather than passive in their labour and follow their own instincts, particularly in hospital wards outside of the Waterlily Midwife-Led Birthing Unit (MLBU). Identifying a number of ideas that would help to support women in having an active birth:
1. Active Birth sessions at the MLBU – A workshop held in the hospital for couples to discuss active birth and have a demo within the setting of different options and approaches, particularly beneficial for parents not able to attend Pathway to Parenting antenatal sessions.
Active Birth Sessions will be delivered from the MLBU later in 2017 and midwives are exploring how they could manage staff arrangements so that evening sessions for those in later stages can be made available.
2. Group Birth Planning sessions – birth planning can help prospective parents think about different approaches to birth, including active birth, but sometimes it is difficult to find enough time to help people do this, especially if they have not been able to get to Pathway to Parenting antenatal sessions. Group birth planning sessions were suggested as a new approach that might help staff reach more people and support them in thinking through their options. Information about active birth could potentially also be woven into these sessions.
Now that the new Midwifery Led Pathway is in place, midwives have started to plan how they can deliver group birth planning sessions and these should start being delivered soon.
3. Active Birth refresher training for midwives – refresher training might help encourage more midwives to support women in choosing an active birth.
A survey was sent round to midwives to ask their views on training needs including active birth refresher training. Targeted training was provided on the basis of their feedback early in 2017. Midwifery pathway training and a homebirth seminar have also been put on to support staff in adjusting to the new stronger focus on midwife-led rather than consultant led care being the norm.
Midwife Complementary Skills
Midwives have a range of interests and skills outside of what they need for their core roles and we felt it would be good to tap into these skills to see how they could be used to support active birth and to give women more choice in their birth experiences. A survey was sent round to local midwives to find out what complementary skills they have that they would like to offer to women in their care. The responses showed that midwives have existing skills and knowledge in:
A small group of staff volunteers who identified themselves as having skills in these areas are now exploring what arrangements need to be in place to make sure these skills can be offered to women safely, and are also identifying other midwives who would like to gain skills in these areas.
A small hypnobirthing pilot session has also been started and is offering six ladies a course of four sessions starting at 34-35 weeks pregnant. A group of interested women have already signed up to take part in the pilot. Once the pilot has been completed and there has been a chance to gather feedback and review the effectiveness of the sessions, it is hoped to open up the offer to more women and explore whether there is any funding available to pay for further training.
Service User Experience
Sometimes the ‘little things’ can make all the difference to people using services. This year, feedback observations have helped make small but meaningful changes to the way local services are provided:
A buzzer was installed in the clinic waiting room reception for those service users experiencing miscarriage, so they do not have to wait for appointments in areas where people are going for routine antenatal screening appointments. Signs were also put up telling people finding their wait difficult that they can talk to reception.
Improvements have been made to the early pregnancy service area at the hospital to make it more welcoming following feedback about the environment.
Following feedback about Bounty Packs and ‘robust overselling’ of services, measures have been put in place to safeguard service users from feeling pressurised.
In response to feedback about making delivery suite a more comfortable and welcoming environment – similar to the Waterlily MLBU - hospital staff are developing plans for fundraising for recliner chairs so that partners can stay on delivery suite.
The world is changing and the way that we engage with local service users needs to adapt. In 2016/17 we have started to take steps forward on the start of its journey to draw more service user feedback and information in from a wider range of places.
This year we have:
Made a web version of our surveys so that service users can send feedback to us more easily with links shared via children’s centres, the new Badgernet e-notes system for service users and various other charities and service user organisations.
Got directly involved in providing on the spot feedback about services thanks to our brilliant service user representatives who have done walk arounds on wards, for example accompanying quality visits by the local service commissioners and have also helped provide user insight in key staff appointment processes.
Started to extend our reach to a wider range of key partners and organisations that have important information to share about local service provision – we now have stronger links with public health and providers of key community services like health visitors and children’s centres. Stronger links still need to be built with key representatives like Healthwatch, GPs and consultants – the latter group is particularly important for us, given ongoing service user feedback on consultant sensitivity.
Started to participate in a regional network of MVPs to share information and learn from others’ ideas about how to engage with service users effectively.
Started attending the new Local Maternity System meetings to act as a representative of service users as new Norfolk approaches to maternity services are developed.