Date of release: 5 May 2023
Specialist Midwives across the Black Country have been working on a host of initiatives to make Maternity Services more equitable and inclusive – including staff sessions to highlight and support communities’ cultural needs.
Four Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Midwives work across the Black Country Local Maternity and Neonatal System (BCLMNS) covering the four places of the Black Country, namely Sandwell, Walsall, Dudley and Wolverhampton.
Their focus has been on visiting under-represented communities to engage with women and families where they feel safest and happiest. They have built up trusted relationships to break down barriers, address myths and concerns and use feedback to enhance and improve Maternity Services.
They have been working to improve accessibility to services and raise awareness of the support available, forging even closer links with voluntary organisations and groups.
Their work has been showcased on the national stage – with organisers of the Black Maternal Health Conference approaching Carol King-Stephens, Walsall’s EDI Midwife to be a keynote speaker to highlight the work being undertaken.
Sally Roberts is LMNS Senior Responsible Officer and Chief Nursing Officer for the Black Country Integrated Care Board and is highlighting their work on International Day of the Midwife..
She said: “While our work within communities is extremely valuable and is helping us to ensure under-represented women and families have a voice, equally important is the education that is taking place in our own Trusts and the work we are doing with our own staff.
“In Wolverhampton for example, our EDI Midwife Sunita Banga is leading weekly “safe space” sessions where staff will engage and receive teaching on various subjects and provides an opportunity for staff to discuss some of the disparities they observe in practice.
“In Sandwell, a Maternity and Neonatal Patient Experience Group, made up of service users, the Maternity Voices Partnership and representatives from its workforce, has been set up by EDI Midwife Afrah Muflihi to provide an objective review of maternity services that are provided – this feedback is used to steer improvement.
“And Dudley worked with staff to create a space for prayer during Ramadan within our maternity inpatient area, led by EDI Midwife Heather McHugh, and efforts to make the area more inclusive are ongoing.”
Helen Hurst, Clinical Director for the BCLMNS added that tackling inequalities was seen as “everyone’s responsibility” across the Trusts.
“Our EDI Midwives are leading us and teaching us but it is everyone’s responsibility to recognise, accept and change those occasions where there has been disparity for some of our service users,” she said.
“We know that there is still a lot to do but we pride ourselves on working collaboratively to make the Black Country a warm, welcoming, inclusive environment for all – that is our ultimate goal.”