I’m Head of Midwifery and the Lead for Gynaecology which means I’m responsible for the all the maternity service in Bucks. This includes our community midwifery teams, our two birth centres, one in Wycombe and one in Aylesbury, the labour ward and both the antenatal and postnatal ward. It’s a big job.
I trained as a nurse in 1992 and did a midwifery placement as part of the course, I fell in love with it. What do I love about being a midwife? I think it’s one of the most special times in a woman and her family’s life and I’ve always felt so privileged to be a part of that. It’s emotional and it doesn’t matter how many babies you deliver, the feeling is always the same. I think there are very few jobs where you really get to make a difference like that.
Part of my job is to make sure that we run a very high quality and safe service, so when Healthwatch Bucks came to us with the idea for the Maternity Report: Partner Experience, it was gratefully received. Although we’ve always done a lot of work around the views of women, it was one of the first opportunities to really have some detailed feedback from partners and what it was like for them during the birth of their baby. It really gave us an opportunity to improve.
What the report has done is create a better experience for new partners using the service. The real positives are that it’s made us think about partners in relation to patient safety and their experience of emergencies. We’ve implemented a new policy that partners are not to be left alone for more than 20 minutes if their partner is in theatre after birth and we’ve included the role of the partner in our training drills that we do every month. The report also made us think about the practical information partners need to access such as how to change a nappy, and we’ve included these on our website now. I think it’s identified areas where there is room for improvement and we definitely need to do more focused work with same-sex and diverse partners.
I have to be honest, when I first heard about Healthwatch Bucks I was a little unsure as there is already, rightly so, a lot of internal and external scrutiny of maternity services. But, what I would really say to other services is embrace it; see the work Healthwatch does as a valuable opportunity to find out people’s views. I think with Healthwatch you get data which has real depth and detail and it’s also a chance to find out service user experiences that perhaps they don’t feel comfortable sharing with you.
I think that patient experience is integral to delivering health care services in this day and age. ‘Better births’, the National Maternity Review, was very clear that we should be delivering personalised care. You can’t design a service without involving the people it’s for. I think that women and their families all have very individual and unique expectations when they find out they are having a baby and each story ends differently.
It’s really important that these experiences are catered for.