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Chief Nurse's Blog

Chief Nurse’s Blog

Date of release: 21 October 2020

Latest News: Ann-Marie Cannaby Blog

Welcome to the blog. This week I would like to highlight our maternity and neonatal departments after they received significant investment to help improve their services.

Our maternity and neonatal services are a part of a local collaboration, working to improve services to families. 

The Black Country and West Birmingham Local Maternity and Neonatal System (LMNS) aims to deliver on the maternity transformation programme of work, in line with the recommendations following the national review of maternity services in England. 

As a result we have been able to secure substantial funding to develop and improve services throughout the pregnancy pathway, which directly impact on the health of mothers and babies. 

One of these improvements is around smoking cessation services. Smoking is the single most important modifiable risk factor in pregnancy, and early identification of pregnant smokers ensures timely treatment for their nicotine addiction.

The LMNS money has been used to expand the smoking cessation service and provide opportunities for staff to develop and enhance their role in supporting pregnant women and new mothers on a one-to-one basis to stop smoking. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, that support has continued on a virtual basis and more recently with the introduction of the ‘Flo’ text service. 

This service allows public health messages to be sent directly to women’s mobile phones from 28 weeks of pregnancy.

Funding has also been secured to increase our ability to reliably test in the home for jaundice in babies.

This reduces the numbers of newborns needing to return to hospital for blood tests and increases our ability to detect significant jaundice earlier. 

We have now purchased this technology for every community team and postnatal in-patient area.

Improvements have also been made in other areas. Intrapartum services – care in labour – will be enhanced by the introduction of centralised cardiotocographic (CTG) covering delivery suite and triage.

Cardiotocography or CTG is the type of fetal monitoring we use for high-risk pregnancies, antenatally and in this instance in labour.

This will mean every CTG can be viewed at a central hub within the delivery suite as well as in the birthing room, giving senior oversight at all times for women receiving continuous electronic fetal monitoring. 

We have also introduced fetal monitoring lead midwives, who work in the clinical areas supporting education and sharing learning.

Neonatal services are split into three levels, depending on the level of care they can provide, and we provide level three care, which means we look after the most premature or sick babies and we accept women with high-risk pregnancies from across the Black Country and further afield. 

Additional funds have allowed us to purchase a Cisco Webex board – a large computer screen that allows virtual meetings – where we can see the other units in the network and they can see us during our daily calls.

This innovation utilises digital technology to facilitate a virtual and interactive meeting space for regular, or urgent ‘network wide quality and safety huddles’ between obstetricians, midwives, neonatal nurses and neonatologists across the LMNS, to discuss cases and develop care plans direct from the clinical area. 

This increased communication will allow more women to birth their babies in the most appropriate unit and achieve our target of 80 per cent of extreme preterm births occurring within a level three unit. 

Within the neonatal service we are purchasing a biometric facial recognition system, which allows entry to registered parents without staff being present to open the door.

This development reinforces our ideal that parents are our partners in care rather than viewed as visitors. 

The system will also check their temperature and ensure they are wearing a mask before the door is opened, adding increased protection during the ongoing pandemic. 

Finally, last week the women’s and neonatal services marked Baby Loss Awareness Week – a chance for all to pause and remember babies who died before birth or in the early days of life. 

Prayers, led by the chaplains, were held on Thursday evening throughout the unit with the ‘wave of light’ in all areas, as staff paid a visual tribute to all the babies who have died in pregnancy and labour.

This year we also lit up the women’s and neonatal unit building in blue and pink, providing a strong message of support and remembrance.

Take care,

A Teaching Trust of the University of Birmingham