Midwives at The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust set up a targeted clinic to support pregnant refugees and their families who have fled their homelands.
Charlotte Leo, Matron, developed a pathway for pregnant women from Eritrea – a country between Sudan and Ethiopia in East Africa – plus Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq and Ukraine to join the Trust’s maternity system.
The decision to set up the clinic came after Trust staff were asked to assess 250 refugees – of which almost half were children – who are currently being accommodated in a hotel in Wolverhampton.
“We were informed on the Thursday that the families had arrived and assumed there would be pregnant women and children. Within a couple of days, we made plans and went to the hotel.
Charlotte worked alongside a team of maternity staff and a team of health visitors who spent their weekend in a local hotel, going from room to room, to assess each family’s needs.
It quickly became clear that the requirements of the first refugees to arrive were quite complex, extending to health, social and financial – even clothing and shoes.
“The residents had travelled in small boats only had the clothes they were wearing,” said Charlotte. “One woman had been sitting in cold water for 12 hours because the boat had leaked and starting filling with water, another had lost their medication in the sea.
“We undertook emergency appointments within the hotel and identified families requiring midwifery and health services. We put a call out for donations to maternity staff and received approximately 16 car loads of clothes and other necessary items.
“Midwives were aware of which families needed what and spent their own time sorting through donations and allocating required items to the families in need.”
The team also linked with a Charity called Sharing is Caring, run by Sunita Banga, midwife, who collected and distributed clothes, nappies, baby wipes and baby food as none of the refugees have no current recourse to public funds.
A host of language barriers meant the team had to call on the support of interpreters to assist in their assessment of the condition of the women.
“There were real barriers because the residents spoke a range of languages, requiring interpreting services. Interpreting services were utilised and literature was translated into various languages, to ensure women and their families had up to date and evidence-based information” said Charlotte.
“The families arrived with additional needs. Some women were in advanced stages of pregnancy, we saw high incidence of female genital mutilation, some have mental health issues and others had complex conditions, so we needed the input of obstetric consultants.
“We developed a plan whereby the pregnant women, and their families, would be transported to the hospital and it was clear this gave us an opportunity to address other health issues. We worked with Kirsty Lewis, Senior Matron 0-19 services and the vaccination team, to ensure families were seen by a range of specialities: maternity and health visiting, as well as COVID 19 vaccinators at a single appointment.”
Once the needs of all the families were identified, a large-scale effort took place on one day during a weekend to monitor the health needs of all the families. Ward D18 at New Cross Hospital was set aside, housing children’s toys and light refreshments, while the hotel provided packed lunches for everyone.
Dr Lucy Morse, Consultant, provided obstetric reviews, Midwife Michelle Dalby, Health Care Assistant Harriet Markey and Maternity Support Worker Carly Rowe supported the antenatal clinic processes, Aimee Laws, Health Visitor Team Leader, Katie Burford, Health Visitor, and Clare Watkins, Public Health Assistant, undertook antenatal contacts on those with more advanced pregnancies and made development checks on their siblings and Tracy Cockburn, Sonographer, scanned all the women to assess their baby’s wellbeing.
Andrea Cortes-Pooler, Vaccinator, and Ade O’Donnell, Admin and Competent Mixer, offered vaccines to all women and their partners and Pharmacy supported as lots of women required iron tablets. All women were issued pregnancy vitamins and were given advice leaflets in their spoken language.
“It was a bespoke antenatal clinic, which was a real team effort,” added Charlotte. “Transport services at the Trust allocated a driver to collect the families, and consultant obstetricians, sonographers and midwives gave up their own time to ensure the women were seen and ensured that they felt safe and cared for.
“I’m really proud of the response to the initial call for support and the way the bespoke clinic addressed the needs of the families – I’ve reached out to other trusts and we appear to be the only trust who have achieved such a service. It was a huge co-ordinated effort, mobilised very quickly.”
This was a fantastic effort by the staff at The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, where the majority of the women will continue to be cared for pre, during and post birth of their children.
Notes to Editor
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