Birth Voices East Blog
Updates on what we're doing and how your feedback is making a difference
Here are the key results of the survey we ran back in March-April this year - we showed the raw data at the June meeting, but its taken a while to write them up here. We have been discussing this issue with JPUH staff over the last six months and there are strong feelings on both sides, both from mums and partners and staff. Clearly, there is no simple answer, and no course of action would please everyone!
The overwhelming response from women is that they feel the need for more support on Ward 11, both practical but especially emotional support. This is especially on the first night postnatal; after a C-section; a first-time mum, or during painful phases of induction. A massive 83% of surveyed women said they wished partners could stay.
However, safeguarding is clearly an issue for the majority of women, as 60% said partners with certain convictions (eg sex offences) should not be allowed to stay - this would be a large admin responsibility for the ward staff and could be difficult to implement (Eg forcibly remove someone if necessary).
Also, nearly half of women had additional concerns about the impact of partners staying, particularly overcrowding, additional noise (30% of women), privacy and dignity (30%), safety and security (25%) and women not feeling at ease or having lower emotional well-being (13%). The 14% of total respondents who said they were against partners staying or had mixed feelings, also deserve to be listened to as it is not a straightforward vote.
From the staff point of view, there are serious concerns about the impact on their safety, wellbeing, and workload. We were shocked to hear how often staff are verbally - and even physically - abused on the ward - one said they were literally told to 'F--k off' on a daily basis - which cannot be pleasant, especially when its someone aggressive or of a large size. Some told us that the time taken dealing with awkward birth partners had a significant impact on their care for other women - and security/police have been called numerous times.
In our survey, we asked how women and partners felt about signing a code of conduct for partners, which is standard at other hospitals. However, only around half of men and women surveyed were happy with the restrictions (eg partner not getting in/on the bed - standard in other wards, for infection control). This would clearly pose a problem for staff, who would have to spend time and energy sorting out these issues.
So as you can see, there is no simple answer! And no course of action would please everyone!
Our conclusion is: clearly, many women staying overnight on ward 11 in recent years have not felt adequately supported emotionally and/or practically. We therefore have five recommendations for potential courses of action JPUH could take to improve maternity care on ward 11:
Phew - long post! If you want to get involved, come along to our quarterly meeting with JPUH staff on Wednesday 11th September at Seagulls Childrens Centre, to hear the latest on a proposed compromise and discuss our next focus topic: improving maternal mental health and detection/care of Postnatal Depression. We hope you appreciate the work we have put in to this research and analysis. It has taken a long time and we desperately need more volunteers to give local women and partners a voice in maternity care. Please get in touch if you can help!
All the best,
Gemma and Jodie