The King's Fund is an independent think tank, which is involved with work relating to the health system in England.
Teri met with Baroness Cumberlege to discuss how the Better Births initiative has impacted on the area so far and our plans for continued rolling out of the programme over the coming months. Better Births, which launched in May this year, is a new way of working for maternity services across Suffolk and north east Essex.
The aim is to deliver a more personalised service to new mothers and their families, with each pregnant mum getting her own dedicated midwifery team and the reassurance of a midwife she knows present at the birth. Initially, six new ‘continuity of care’ teams have been created across Ipswich, West Suffolk and Colchester hospitals, providing antenatal, birth and post-natal care and offering new mothers an unparalleled level of support.
Teri said: “Since the Better Births launch in May the midwifery teams have gone from strength to strength. Ipswich’s Maple team has been particularly popular, with women choosing to change GP practice to access the care. Consequently, we have added another midwife to the Maple team to meet demand.
“The caesarean birth teams in both west Suffolk and Ipswich have proved a success, with women writing to us to express their satisfaction with this type of care. Our Local Maternity System (Suffolk and Essex) is currently running some of the highest levels of continuity of care in the UK.”
Additionally, the maternity team in north east Essex are focusing particularly on continuing to improve the care available to women in Tendring.
Teri said: “We know that once again for a third year Jaywick was named the most deprived area in the UK. Many children living in Jaywick live in poverty. We know that the pregnancy journey and maternity experience can impact profoundly on a child’s life chances. We believe that by offering continuity of care to the women of Clacton and Harwich we can positively impact on the wellbeing of the whole family. The pregnancy and birth journey offers us an opportunity to work with women to address issues such as smoking, weight management, diabetes and emotional wellbeing. All of these have huge implications for the health of mums and babies.
“We also want to work with organisations and the voluntary sector to wrap services around the women of these areas, making it easier for them to access care and easier for them to build meaningful relationships with their named midwife.
“Clacton Maternity Unit offers a birth environment that is midwife led and has a ‘home from home’ feel. There will always be women who need more medical involvement in their births, but we would like to see more women with uncomplicated pregnancies use the wonderful birthing facilities at Clacton.”
Teri also spoke with Baroness Cumberlege about Better Births and the future of maternity services nationally. Baroness Cumberlege led the National Maternity Review which led to Better Births.
She added: “Baroness Cumberlege was keen to hear the progress we are making in north east Essex and Suffolk. I spent some time describing the feedback from families who have experienced team midwifery, which has been overwhelming. Baroness Cumberlege talked about the research supporting the Better Births programme, including how team midwifery improves maternal mental health, premature birth and birth complications. It is wonderful to know we have such support behind our maternity services.”