Birth Voices East Blog
Updates on what we're doing and how your feedback is making a difference
We held our most recent meeting in March at the Seagulls Children’s Centre and yet again we had a good attendance and a new mum attending, we also had feedback from other mums who weren’t able to attend which was really helpful.
We welcomed the James Paget’s new Women’s Experience Midwife, Abby to her first meeting. Abby is making changes already to improve women’s experience. She has been sharing positive feedback with teams received from debriefings as well as looking at what can be improved.
We discussed our current focus topic – looking at the postnatal care of mums and babies after leaving hospital.
We have now opened a survey to get your feedback about this topic – if you would like to complete the survey it can be found here. We will be keeping this survey open for the next month or so, and will be discussing the results and looking to see if any changes can be made at our next meeting.
We also discussed the new Local Maternity System (LMS), we are hoping to hold a series of engagement events in the next 12 months. We will provide more details about this when we have it.
As always, we really appreciate your general feedback about your experiences of maternity care, it would be great if you could fill out our maternity care survey
We have taken feedback on community midwives from our maternity care survey and used it to create two posters which you can see below. This feedback has been shared with our midwives and is a great way to thank them for the work they do with expectant and new mums!
Our next meeting will be held on Monday 18th June at 12pm, at Kirkley Children’s Centre in Lowestoft. Babies and toddlers are welcome and we look forward to seeing you there!
Hi my name's Amy and I'm six weeks old. I've spent the last 9 months testing out maternity services in the Great Yarmouth and Waveney area.
My Mummy set up Birth Voices East a few years ago, as she was unhappy with her care when my sister was born.
My mission since last May has been to help Mummy test out current maternity care. I have taken this job very seriously and decided to develop a few complications along the way, to make sure we tested out (nearly) the full range of services!
Overall, Mummy and I have been really impressed with the level of care we received all the way through pregnancy, labour and postnatally. Mummy said it has made such a difference to how she feels - both physically and emotionally - compared to last time. Even though this time she had more medical intervention, she feels at peace with everything that happened because of great communication and caring staff, which made her trust the people looking after her and feel in safe hands throughout.
Of course, not everything was perfect, so we will be passing on a few suggestions about some aspects that didn't meet expectations or where there is further potential for improvement, such as:
Mummy also acknowledges that being a second-time mum really helped, and that's partly why staff members listened to her more and respected what she had to say. This really brings home how important it is to make sure first time mums always have that emotional support and trust in the staff looking after them. So Mummy is going to keep pushing to make sure this happens (check out the new survey on postnatal wellbeing!).
In particular, we would like to thank:
We would also like thank Jayne Utting and the senior midwifery team at JPUH, who have worked to make improvements in the last couple of years, including increasing staffing levels and in particular recruiting permanent staff instead of using agency workers. Also we would like to thank all the Birth Voices East volunteer mums, and all the local parents that have contributed their feedback and thoughts - each and every one has played a role in improving local care.
While its great that our experience was so much more positive this time round, I was only one of around 2000 babies born each year at JPUH. So to make your voice count, and help Birth Voices East to continue to make a difference, please fill out our anonymous online survey on maternity care (and/or this one on health visiting and other support services)
You can also 'like' our facebook page to keep up to date with what's happening and future listening events and meetings, or email us at BirthVoicesEast@yahoo.co.uk to get involved. Even if you only have a few hours to spare it could help, as we have lots planned for 2018, including:
Amy and her Mummy (Gemma)
Hello, I’d like to introduce myself – my name is Katherine and I’m delighted to say that I’ve recently been elected as the new Chair of Birth Voices East ‘Maternity Voices Partnership’ (MVP). I work part time for a local authority and am mum to a very lively 15 month old son! I wanted to join the group as I used the services offered by the James Paget, midwives and health visiting services extensively during my pregnancy and afterwards and I wanted to help other mums give feedback on services and help to continue to improve the services offered. Whilst I had a mostly positive experience, I feel having a platform for mums to give feedback and help shape services is vital and so I wanted to get involved with the MVP. I especially want to focus on getting feedback from more women, especially those who may find it difficult to access services for different reasons.
I want say thank you to our out-going Chair Jodie for doing such a brilliant job and also give a big thank our Vice-Chair Gemma for all the wonderful work she has done and continues to do, and for all the support she has given me since I joined the group. I look forward to working closely with her in the future!
We are always looking for feedback from mums (and dads!) and ideas for future focus topics. Please feel free to message me via our Facebook page with any ideas!
Our last meeting in December had a great attendance, and it was great to see mums and little ones come along! We discussed our new focus topic – looking at the postnatal care of mums and babies after leaving hospital. We felt the most useful way to get feedback will be through a survey, which we can then take the results of and work with our partners to look at the potential for realistic changes. At the meeting we received lots of suggestions for questions to ask mums in the survey, which should be published on the website by the end of January, so watch this space!
We also discussed the new Local Maternity System (LMS), a plan for maternity services in the Norfolk and Waveney area. This is still being put together and input from mums will be vital to create the LMS. We are hoping to have more details on this by early February and will be asking for mums for feedback and to participate in creating the LMS. Keep an eye on the Facebook page for more information!
As always, we really appreciate your feedback about your experiences of maternity care, it would be great if you could fill out our maternity care survey and please feel free to get in touch with any other feedback!
It was great to see some new faces (adult and baby!) at the meeting today – thanks to all for coming! Thank you very much also to Jodie, who resigned as chair today to focus on her bump! Her hard work over the past year is really appreciated and she has really made a difference to the amount of people we have reached, including those with non-English speaking and difficult to reach groups.
I'll split this update into two - this one on the hospital/midwifery side, and the next one on health visiting and mental health. There are lots of new developments from JPUH:
1. There is now a perinatal mental health clinic happening fortnightly, that midwives can refer women to antenatally or postnatally. There is a consultant psychiatrist and obstetrician present, and this means women at this crucial time do not have to wait weeks to be seen. The focus is on women concerned about antenatal/postnatal depression and related issues, and a personal care pathway is made for each woman. They say there is much work still to do, but they are very proud they are making steps in the right direction. We really welcome this, and of course, would love to hear from any women that have used the new service what their experiences were
2. Partners staying: after working with us user reps on this since the start of the year, JPUH is planning to launch a trial scheme from October:
4. Ward tours are now available every Tuesday at 1pm and include Central Delivery Suite, Dolphin Suite, and Ward 11 – which is great as we asked for this at the last meeting :)
5. Children at scans – Norfolk and Norwich hospital has announced under-12s are not allowed at scans anymore. JPUH is not going down this route, despite some staff concerns. Instead, the wording on the scan letters will be changed to limit the number of children, and make clear that an additional adult should be present to take any disruptive children out if necessary, as sonographers need to be able to concentrate (especially during the anomaly scan), and of course there is also the possibility of bad news, which mums may not wish children to be present for.
6. Breastfeeding – the hospital was very proud to get accredited for ‘Unicef Babyfriendly Initiative Stage 3’ a couple of year ago but must now apply for re-evaluation to keep that status. The Head of Midwifery feels that this is very expensive at around £9,000 plus a large amount of time by specialist midwives on paperwork for the auditing process. She is concerned this is not the best use of funds and wonders if women would rather that money and time was spent increasing the amount of face-to-face time the specialist infant-feeding midwives can spend with new mums – and hopefully setting up a drop-in breastfeeding clinic (unlike peer-supporters, midwives can refer for tongue-tie etc). She says that the Unicef BFI standards would still be carried on, just without the certificate. What do you think?
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
I'm Jodie, the Chair of Birth Voices East 'Maternity Services Liaison Committee'. I joined the group as a result of my own personal experiences following my second pregnancy.
When I had my first baby I was fortunate to have a very straightforward pregnancy and delivery, sadly, second time round this wasn't to be the case. Whilst pregnant with my second child, I experienced some unexpected complications that led to a difficult and traumatic delivery. Nothing like I'd hoped for.
These types of experiences do happen, they're not talked about enough and often things can be learned from them.
I soon realised, after a debrief with a senior Midwife, that I could use my experiences to help ensure that other families didn't go through what we had. I was introduced to the MSLC and this was the best thing for me, I could be proactive and support the people that design the services to better understand what local families actually want.
Together with a dedicated group of volunteer mums, the Vice Chair and myself meet regularly with Senior Midwifery staff, Health Visiting Leaders, local Council Public Health, Healthwatch and the CCG (people that fund the services we receive), to pass on feedback and offer our suggestions on their propositions.
Us mums have a unique ability to connect with other new mums and their families to understand what is really important to them. Using the feedback we get, we look for common themes and then support the professionals to understand what women and their families want. Themes we are working on at the moment include: postnatal care on Ward 11; partners staying overnight, and maternal mental health.
So... where is the opportunity I hear you say??
I'm very happy to share I'm now expecting my third baby and therefore we are looking for a new Chair! The position is hugely rewarding as I really feel I can make a difference to other mums. I manage this around two children and working 25hrs+ a week - it is flexible, and myself and the other mums make it work around us.
If you would like to get involved, it doesn't have to be as a result of a difficult experience, (that just happens to be what prompted my involvement), and you would get lots of support.
We have an excellent relationship with the professionals who come along to our meetings, they understand that we are busy mums and are always grateful of our time and input. Please have a look at our below advert.
Watch our page as I will be adding an informal style recruitment event where anyone interested in any type of involvement- from just a bit nosey and want to know what we're about, to interested in the Chair role, can come along and meet some of us mums that are involved in the MSLC.
Here is the full advert-
Vacancy for a Volunteer Chairperson
Maternity Services Liaison Committee ("MSLC")
Are you interested in improving and developing maternity services for local women and their families?
Birth Voices East, the 'MSLC' for Great Yarmouth and Waveney, are looking for a new Chairperson and would love to hear from you. This is an excellent and unique opportunity to play an active role in ensuring local maternity services meet the needs of your community.
The MSLC: We meet quarterly in a child friendly location, for example local Children's Centres. We are a dedicated committee made up of local user representatives (mums who have used the services recently) and health professionals, advising and working with the senior maternity staff from the James Paget Hospital and the Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) on the care provided to women, their partners and their babies during pregnancy, birth and in the weeks after the baby’s arrival.
You would be part of a nationwide network of MSLCs (about to be rebranded as Maternity Voices Partnership) who share ideas, network and support.
Our role is to help improve services by making sure the views and experiences of people who use the James Paget's maternity services are listened to and taken account of.
You can read more on our website: www.birthvoiceseast.co.uk
The Chair: Should be independent from those commissioning or providing services; ideally someone from the local community who has used the services within the last two years or has close links with those using the services, i.e. a ‘user representative’. Responsibilities include developing the direction of the MSLC’s work in consultation with MSLC members.
He/she will need to attend and lead MSLC meetings (but will get lots of support to do this if needed), setting the agenda in accordance with the annual programme and, where appropriate, ensuring decisions of the committee are followed up.
This is a voluntary role with expenses paid. In addition, the budget last year allowed for a £500 honararium.
You would initially be working alongside the Vice Chair - however that role is also up for renewal shortly so this may be an opportunity for two people who know each other to apply together.
If you would like to apply or find out more about this position, or any other involvement in the committee, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, including your name and contact number. Please also include a brief description of what interested you about the role. This will be forwarded to Jayne Utting, the Head of Midwifery at James Paget who will be involved in the recruitment of a new chairperson. Gemma (vice chair) and myself are happy to answer any questions you might have about the two leadership roles - and would love more people to get involved as user reps too!
Applications should be received no later than 5pm on 14/08/17
Thank you - we look forward to hearing from you!
sorry we've been really quiet in the last couple of months, we were exhausted from a manic Jan-March, with over 800 surveys, facebook comments and emails to sort through! On the upside, that means local women and partners want to have a say maternity care when they have the opportunity, and that health professionals are keen to hear what women have to say :)
The task of doing such a big update has been so daunting that we keep putting it off. The minutes the CCG provided us with were very brief which is a shame as we covered so much ground - normally we document everything! So, as briefly as I can:
1) Cuts to breastfeeding support - this was covered in Jodie's last post so I won't repeat it - apart from emphasising how we were the only organisation that actually got all the people involved and affected by the decision in one room talking about the issues - unfortunately after the decision had been made. Still, at least our County Council health commissioners now understand why things like tongue tie diagnosis is so crucial to new mums, and know they can contac tus if they wish to consult local women about any other aspects of maternity/postnatal care!
2) Funding and recruitment - We now have funding! Finally...that means we can now get money back for all the posters, leaflets, meeting rooms bookings, website costs etc that we (Gemma and Jodie) have incurred over the past 18 months. And get a small 'honararium' to cover some of the immense time it takes. Also, we can now cover transport and childcare costs for any local mums/dads that would like to come to our meetings (Ofted registered, 3 hours max). We are looking for a new chair/vice chair due to maternity cover, as well as more people to help out and share ideas/tasks so please get in contact if you're interested! We fit it into spare hour here and there around work/family. An interest in maternity care, access to a computer and ideally willingness to read through answers and statistics from surveys would be all that is needed :)
3) General feedback survey: We had over 80 new surveys back covering antenatal, labour/delivery, postnatal (Ward) and community postnatal. Overall, satisfaction rates are very good for antenatal care, labour/delivery and community postnatal, but Ward 11 postnatal is still giving much lower ratings. This ties in with the next topic...
4) Partners staying overnight on Ward 11: We had nearly 450 unique surveys back so thank you so much to everyone that took part! I will do a separate post shortly with the results but the main message is:
Phew, think that's all the main things! I will do a focus post on the results of partner staying survey, and possible compromise options next week
All the best!
You may have seen the recent Facebook posts from dedicated community Peer Supporters who discovered, with little notice, that funding for this service was being withdrawn from East Coast Community Healthcare (ECCH) by Suffolk County Council (SCC).
Cuts would include not only the paid Breastfeeding Practitioners who until recently visited the homes of women that were struggling, provided one to one support as well as being qualified to diagnose and refer for Tongue Ties, (missed diagnosis in the newborn checks being an issue we hear about often), but the equally hard working unpaid volunteers who run community based Baby Cafe's for pregnant women, new mum's and their families to attend were also being cut. The cafe's provide a haven where mum's can comfortably feed their babies without fear of any negativity towards breastfeeding; building up confidence to feed publicly, they meet UNICEF accredited Peer Supporters who can help mum's to correctly latch their baby and give heaps of useful information like expressing and safely storing milk. Not just that, they know how it really feels to have been up all night the previous night, they're mum's too, giving up their time and a listening ear.
The Facebook posts were very emotive and we could see how angry local parents were at this service being withdrawn, not to mention the disappointment from the volunteers who were not involved in any way in the discussions around the service being withdrawn.
We felt that due to our unique position of regularly interacting with the stakeholders who are key in Maternity Services decision making, we could provide a platform for Peer Supporters and local women by bringing all of the right people together in one room.
Here are some of the outcomes-
The fact that Baby Café’s will continue to run and that the JPUH are benefitting from additional Peer Supporters (and still recruiting more to support at the hospital) is great news for local women.
It's not the same level of service that there previously was though, where Breastfeeding Practitioners would do home visits and were able to refer for tongue ties etc. We will monitor feedback from women and if it becomes clear that this reduction in service is affecting local parents, we will feed this back to the relevant decision makers and push for change.
Get in touch if you want to support with the work Birth Voices East does.
Local women have recently contacted us to voice concerns after news that from 31st March, there will no longer be a breastfeeding support contract in place for community-based breastfeeding services across Suffolk. Last year the same happened in the Great Yarmouth area, and women are told to talk to health visitors instead.
So what will change?
• No local breastfeeding hotline to support new mums having difficulties
• No home visits from trained breastfeeding practitioners who could refer to tongue tie clinics
• No funding for baby cafes, where trained volunteers are on hand to help with any problems or provide moral support about feeding in public
Once women leave hospital they don't stop needing support to breastfeed. Although initiation rates are high (82% in October at JPUH), by 6-8 weeks postnatal this drops to only 46% (full or combi-feeding) across Suffolk (Jan-July 2016, Public Health England data).
We are interested in hearing from local mums and pregnant women about what impact they feel this may have. We can then use this to make a case to Maternity Staff and Commissioners to explore what other funding sources might be available.
HAVE YOUR SAY
Recently Healthwatch Suffolk recommended that James Paget Hospital should allow all partners to stay after the birth if they wish. It is a topic many people feel very strongly about, both for and against. On the upside, partners could provide additional support, both practically and emotionally. But there would be potential trade-offs for privacy and dignity, not to mention safeguarding of vulnerable people.
The maternity department has asked us to help find out exactly how women and birth partners feel about this - how strong objections might be, and how it could work in practice given the limited space and budget - for example, sleeping on chairs with no food/drink provided - and of course, just curtains separating you from the next family, even during examinations.
We have made TWO surveys - one for mums and one for birth partners (male or female) - to make sure everyone's opinions are listened to (anonymously of course). But we need hundreds of people to repond to make it work, so please fill it in and then help us to share it!
We will also be holding a DROP IN DISCUSSION AND PLAY SESSION on 18TH JANUARY AT KIRKLEY CHILDRENS CENTRE at 10-12. There will be toys for the little ones and an opportunity for anyone wishing to talk about this subject or any other aspect of local maternity care (induction, postnatal depression etc) to come along, have a cup of tea/cake and a chat.
We also have the formal committee meeting booked for the 22nd of February at Hopton Village Hall, this is where we mums (no dads yet unfortunately - would be useful) meet with senior maternity staff as well as other professionals from the CCG, Public Health, and Healthwatch amongst others to talk through the feedback responses and what can be done to address them. Please let us know if you are interested in attending - the formal meeting is not normally for discussing individual experiences but more if you are interested in hearing about and suggesting ways to improve different aspects fo amternity care, or helping us gather feedback, promote and organise!
Author: Birth Voices East