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National funding boost for Northumbria to gather women’s birth experiences

Thursday, 16 March, 2017
National funding boost for Northumbria to gather women’s birth experiences

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is one of only three organisations in the country to be awarded £50,000 to fund an innovative project to gather women’s feedback about giving birth to improve experiences of care.

The funding, from NHS England’s Maternity Challenge Fund, will see the trust set up a ‘birth reflection pathway’ and collect feedback from women having their baby at The Northumbria hospital at Cramlington. 

The trust will use this feedback to signpost women to medical and psychological support if required and shape bespoke training for midwifery teams to improve care.  The six-month project complements Northumbria Healthcare’s multi award-winning patient experience programme which is recognised as one of the most comprehensive in the NHS. 

Women having their baby at The Northumbria will have the opportunity to share their feedback in ‘real-time’ whilst they are still in hospital. For the first time, this feedback will be attributed to women by name should they wish it to be, ensuring that their experience is the very best it can be for all the family.

The new maternity project, which involves collaboration between the patient experience, health psychology and maternity teams at Northumbria Healthcare, also gives women the chance to share their feedback anonymously at a later date, once they have returned home. 

Patient feedback plays a key role in understanding the actual experiences of women and their families during their maternity care. It will provide vital information for the trust to determine where and how services can be improved even further.

The Maternity Challenge Fund builds on the Friends and Family Test – which helps providers understand whether patients are happy with services – and supports NHS England’s plans for more effective use of patient insight data.

The fund provides an opportunity to test the feasibility of ideas for adding value from patient feedback in maternity services and to see whether, in practice, they work and could be transferable to other trusts.

Annie Laverty, director of patient experience at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “As one of only three organisations nationally to be awarded this funding, we are naturally delighted that our bid has been successful. 

“A new arrival in the family is a very precious time and yet giving birth can provide very different experiences for women depending on the circumstances.

“This is such an important aspect of our care and we’re very keen to understand how women and their partners view their birthing experience. It will provide us with invaluable insight in order to improve care, support our staff and develop our service.

“We already run a very successful patient experience programme and this work will enable us to expand this further. Importantly, it allows us to bridge the gap that exists between the measurement of patient experience and improvement of care, for the benefit of all women who choose to give birth with us.”

Kath Evans, NHS England’s Maternity Experience of Care Lead, said: “This year’s Maternity Challenge Fund projects provide a real opportunity to explore how we can get even more value from the feedback that women and their partners give. These initiatives will explore whether, and how well, information about their experiences can be used to enhance what happens at an individual level.

“Each of these pieces of work has the potential to identify really innovative approaches that could benefit maternity services and families across the country and we’re delighted to be able to support the three trusts in putting their great ideas into practice.”

Northumbria Healthcare’s patient experience programme ensures the views of hundreds of patients are collected and acted upon every month, while they are in hospital and when they go home.

The programme has led to the trust winning many awards including best trust for patient experience in the CHKS Top Hospitals programme in 2016, and patient feedback forms a key part of the trust’s quality improvement programme.

Over 3,000 babies are born at The Northumbria hospital in a year. The Birthing Centre has a midwifery-led unit with a co-located consultant-led obstetric unit.  With single en-suite rooms with facilities are partners to stay overnight, it offers women the highest standards in maternity care and attracts positive feedback from patients.