On the road to transforming maternity care

Sarah-Jane Marsh, chair of the NHS England Maternity Transformation Programme Board, provides an update on the work going on to make maternity care across the country safer and giving women greater control and choice.

I start with exciting news that the 2017 CQC Maternity Survey showed most women are having a positive experience of maternity care and treatment within the NHS.  There have also been improvements in areas such as choice of where to give birth, the quality of information available and access to help and support postnatally. I know that improvements like this don’t just happen – so thank you.

The Maternity Transformation Programme (MTP) Board Meeting held in December focused on how we ensure 2018 is a year of accelerated delivery, and we heard all about the hard work local maternity systems (LMS’) have put into planning how they will deliver on personalisation, alongside ensuring services are safe – and that any current concerns are adequately highlighted and addressed.

The focus of the MTP national team is to support the implementation plans of each LMS, and the team are currently meeting with a number of local systems to ensure that they are in the best position to deliver the Better Births vision. We also have our seven early adopters to turn to for help, and I am pleased to report they are on course to deliver some fantastic new models of care and approaches to continuity of carer that I know other areas can learn from.

A great example of this is a pioneering ‘pop up’ birthing unit based in Wirral’s Seacombe Children’s Centre, which will provide enhanced choice for mothers in the area as an alternative to hospital.

On safety, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has laid down a further challenge to us by moving the national ambition to reduce stillbirths, neonatal deaths, maternal death and brain injuries forward from 2030 to 2025. The Saving Babies Lives Care Bundle is considered an invaluable tool in achieving this ambition and its impact is currently being assessed by the University of Manchester.

The MTP Stakeholder Council also continues to hold the MTP Board to account, and their latest meeting saw further discussion on the Maternity Decision Aids which we are hoping to release shortly to support LMS’ to provide consistent information around the benefits and risks of different birth settings to women and families. You can find out more about what happened at the latest meeting on our website here.

Following the MTP Board, the Board and the Stakeholder Council held a joint meeting to discuss the culture in maternity services, in full recognition that if we do not get this right then all of our other initiatives will fail.  The discussions were certainly lively as everyone gave their views on the current situation and how this needs to evolve to improve the care we give. We heard from midwives, obstetricians, maternity charities and mothers as well as representatives from NHS organisations and royal colleges on how to make this happen.

This piece of work is so important in supporting us to giving consistent messages about what we are striving for together – and in my next update I will be able to share and build on the outcomes of our discussions, so watch this space!

In the meantime I would encourage you to sign-up for our two year on event at the end of March. I look forward to seeing you there.

Sarah-Jane Marsh

Sarah-Jane Marsh is Chief Executive Officer of Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital and chairs both the NHS England Maternity Transformation, and the Children and Young People Transformation programmes.

She joined the NHS via the Graduate Management Scheme, holding various roles in primary and secondary care and at the Department of Health, before promotion to Director of Planning and Productivity at Walsall Hospitals NHS Trust.

Appointed Chief Operating Officer at Birmingham Children’s Hospital in December 2007 and Chief Executive Officer in March 2009, the hospital has been under her leadership for almost eight years and was named ‘Provider Trust of the Year’ by the Health Service Journal in 2015.

In 2015, Sarah-Jane took on the additional role of Chief Executive of Birmingham Women’s Hospital, before going on to integrate the two hospitals in February 2017 to create Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust – the first of its kind in Europe.

She also led the development of an innovative new mental health partnership for 0-25 year olds in the city – Forward Thinking Birmingham – another UK first.

Sarah-Jane chairs the NHS England Maternity Transformation Programme Board, which aims to make maternity care across England safer, and give women greater control and choice, as well as the Children and Young People Transformation Programme Board, which brings together partners across health, care and education to improve the health and wellbeing of children and young people.

Her passions are exceeding the expectations of patients and families and making Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital the very best place to work and be cared for.

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