Q&A with Sallie Ward, Lead Midwife

Over the past year, midwives have worked in extraordinary circumstances to provide excellent care to women and their families across our region.

To mark International Day of the Midwife on Wednesday 5th May, the Communications team at Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership (HCV) spoke to Sallie Ward, Lead Midwife for the Local Maternity System (LMS).

Q. What are the key priorities for the LMS over the next year?

A. The key priorities of the LMS are to support the whole maternity transformation agenda, including Better Births 2016 and the NHS long term plan 2019 across all  trusts and ensure that we recover well from the pandemic learning lessons and seeing what we can continue/adapt/change to take midwifery forward for families in the future.

Q. What is meant by ‘continuity of carer’ and why is this important to patients and staff?

A. Continuity of carer is continuity before, during and after the birth of the person/team looking after families during pregnancy which is safe, personalised and responsive to the needs of  women and their families at the heart of it.  This has proven to give better outcomes and higher satisfaction for patients and staff. HCV LMS were successful in reaching the National target of 35% of women being on a continuity of carer pathway by March 2021 and achieved 38.3% which is so fantastic considering this was achieved during a national pandemic. The continuity teams found they were able to support women effectively and safely. Moving forward a real focus will be on those from a minority ethnic background and in the most vulnerable decile as we know outcomes are much poorer.

Q. The LMS has been involved in recruiting more staff, including safety and prevention leads. What do these roles involve?

A. Safety is of utmost priority in maternity care and publication of the recent Ockendon report 2021 has highlighted the need for change and more scrutiny of how maternity services are managed . The LMS has assumed a role of oversight of key pieces of work and is working very closely with the hospitals within their geographical area to ensure that the immediate and essential actions are implemented and going forward ensuring safety and quality in  the maternity services we represent.

Q. Prevention is a key component of maternity care and supporting families with lifestyle choices for example weight management, smoking cessation, alcohol dependency is essential to support the best possible outcomes for pregnancy and continuing in the health of families into the future.

A. The new roles will focus very much on developing key pieces of work in co production with local families of supporting lifestyle choices and working across the whole Humber Coast and Vale area to ensure equity of service provision and locally accessible services for families.

Q. What benefits will the introduction of a single maternity IT system bring?

A. The benefits of a  single IT system are many. Working across organisational boundaries using different systems has always been an issue. A single system will allow patients to transfer effectively from trust to trust, allow cross boundary working, staff will be able to transfer effectively and safely making a more flexible workforce, and communication with the wider multidisciplinary team will be seamless improving quality, safety and timeliness of information.

Q. How is the LMS prioritising maternal mental health?

A. Maternal mental health is of paramount importance and the pandemic has increased issues through isolation, fear and separation from close family members. The LMS have a joint action plan with the Maternal Mental Health Teams and are planning key work with a  particular focus on place based services. Supporting fathers and partners is also a priority as their mental health is often overlooked in maternity services.

To find out more please visit www.humbercoastandvalematernity.org.uk.

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