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Initial Results of November Maternity Engagement in Cumbria and North Lancashire

Pregnancy

The implementation group set up following the independent review of maternity services by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has been given updates from the hospital trusts about the work taking place to consider the steps needed to keep the four consultant-led units and provide women with more choice through the establishment of midwifery-led units. 1,234 responses to an on-line survey and hundreds of facilitated conversations with women and families at drop in sessions and attendances at existing local groups where mums meet with their children provided extensive feedback giving a clear picture about what women and their families consider to be important in a great maternity service

Following an intensive programme of public engagement during November, early findings show that most women and families reported a positive experience when using maternity services. When asked what they would like to see in future services, they sent clear messages:

  • Continuity of care and carer
  • Consistency and  quality of information and communication
  • Breast feeding support
  • Support and information for women to make informed decisions and choices
  • Accessible services and choice, including travel times to services no longer than 40 minutes

The public engagement was led by Healthwatch Cumbria, working with the Maternity Services Liaison Committee, and targeted women who have used maternity services in the last five years, their partners, families and birth supporters and those who may become pregnant in the future.

Sue Stevenson from Healthwatch Cumbria said: “The engagement was embraced with energy and enthusiasm. People had a lot to say and we are now working through the detail of a substantial amount of feedback.

“However, a number of consistent themes emerged from the survey responses and the local discussions which we hope will be helpful to the implementation group.”

When asked what a good maternity service would look like, responses included:

  • All staff to be well trained medically and socially
  • No agency staff
  • Continuity of midwife support throughout pregnancy and labour
  • All healthcare staff to be respectful of women and their families and to be sensitive to their wishes and needs
  • Good communication between staff and between staff and their colleagues.

There were strong messages to keep maternity services local and comments about busy wards and lack of facilities, in particular the choice to use a birthing pool.

This work is informing the implementation group set up following the independent review of maternity services by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG) which has also been given updates from the hospital trusts about the work taking place to consider the steps needed to keep the four consultant-led units and provide women with more choice through the establishment of midwifery-led units. This work is expected to be completed early 2016. It will feed into Success Regime discussions in West, North and East Cumbria and to Better Care Together in South Cumbria and North Lancashire. It is also taking into account the recommendations following the Morecambe Bay Investigation.