For this week’s blog I wanted to highlight the innovations that have taken place in our Maternity Unit in recent times.
These changes have not only enabled the team to provide more information to expectant and new mothers but also to simplify the process.
Many women who have been pregnant in the last 20 years probably remember the green hand-held notes, which were basically a handwritten paper record of a woman’s pregnancy that included blood and scan results and clinic visits and plans.
In April 2018, after considerable investment from the Trust, our Maternity Unit went live with a new IT system, called Badger Maternity, ending the need for hand-held notes and paper records.
Literally overnight, a woman’s whole pregnancy record, including the birth, began to be recorded electronically. I-Pads and laptops have replaced pen and paper.
An integral part of this new system is an app for the new mum, which is her electronic pregnancy record, containing information about her pregnancy, but also literature for her and her family to read.
All appointments are fed through to her mobile phone and she receives text reminders 24 hours prior to them all.
We knew these things were important, but we didn’t realise at that time just how important they would become.
Fast forward to March 2020 and virtually overnight, the world changed. Many NHS services were suspended or cancelled, but for Maternity this wasn’t a possibility. Of course babies wait for no one, let alone a worldwide pandemic!
Suddenly, faced with around 4,000 anxious pregnant women at home, Maternity had to adapt – and adapt they did!
Firstly, a hub was set up in the unit, staffed by midwives who, for whatever reason, were unable to work face to face.
New phone lines were installed by our IT department and computers, once used for training, were redeployed.
The woman’s app allowed us to send ‘push notifications’ out to all users – short messages which would pop up on the woman’s phone automatically, which quickly gave us the ability to communicate with our new mums.
The first information we provided was a contact number they could call between 8am and 6pm with any questions or concerns.
One of the most common questions from women was they didn’t know what the unit looked like, so we uploaded a video of the unit, showing inside the various areas and different women’s experiences.
Another concern expressed by expectant first-time mothers was the absence of birth classes because of COVID-19. So we uploaded lots of videos and presentations of childbirth education classes to the app.
Obviously, the biggest concern of everyone was COVID-19, so every week when the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) updated their guidance and frequently asked questions, these were also added to the app.
Having a complete end-to-end electronic patient record has allowed us to know which women are high risk, which cases need following up, who is due tests or who requires screening.
In these unprecedented times we have been able to pinpoint and contact women through the maternity information system to ensure their appointments and/or consultations have not slipped through the net.
From the hub we have been able to undertake thousands of phone consultations and give advice and reassurance to our women.
I-Pads have also been introduced, along with software supplied by the Trust, to give video support to our mums and babies at home, particularly with regards to breastfeeding.
Being able to have face-to-face contact with mums and their babies in this way has proved to be an enormous support to them.
We have managed to maintain a safe service, albeit slightly differently, throughout the pandemic, with support from the Trust and the suppliers of the Badger system, but also from all of our staff, midwifery and obstetricians.
Finally, I’m delighted to report the Trust’s success in the Nursing Times awards. Five nurses have been shortlisted and our clinical fellowship programme has been nominated for four awards.
Urology nursing team have received three nominations. Kelly Kusinski has been shortlisted in the Cancer Nursing category for her BROS support group. Aimed at black men and their families, BROS is a support group for prostate cancer and also aims to raise awareness of elevated prostate specific antigen (PSA) tests. Kelly and colleagues Clare Waymont and Jenny Akins have also been shortlisted in the Cancer Nursing category, for the work done with the nurse-led elevated PSA telephone triage service.
Completing the nominations are urology nurse Nicola Farnell and gynaecology nurse Emily Waites, who have both been shortlisted in the Rising Star category.
The clinical fellowship programme has been nominated in the following categories:- Best Diversity and Inclusion Practice, Best International Recruitment Experience, Best UK Employer of the Year for Nursing Staff and Workforce Team of the Year.
Led by Zoe Marsh, our Deputy Director of Global Partnerships, Innovation, Integration and Research, the clinical fellowship programme is an innovative, educational programme offering employment and study for both UK nurses and internationally qualified nurses.
I’ve attached a video promoting the programme which I’m very proud of and hope you can watch it to see how the exciting pathways open to nurses who pursue it.