Baby steps: maternity services report

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Dorset created this report to look at the experiences of maternity services in Dorset by people with protected characteristics. The aims of the investigation were twofold: 1) To add other insights to the research conducted by the local NHS as part of the Better Births Early Adopter initiative 2) To contribute to ensuring that Dorset’s diverse demographic of service users is more fairly represented, including those with protected characteristics. The To do this, they ran surveys, events, had face-to-face meetings and group meetings. In total, they recieved feedback from 110 people. There were 2 key themes that arose from the investigation regarding the need for improvement in local maternity services from people with protected characteristics within Dorset: 1. Lack of respect for individual circumstances While much of the feedback about the NHS maternity staff was very positive, there were some people who felt patronised and that they weren’t listened to or respected. 2. Better communication and more time to allow mothers to understand With particular groups of people with protected characteristics, the importance of clear communication is paramount. For example, the Muslim Contact Group said that the majority of mothers talked about ‘very poor lack of communication due to the mother’s language not being English first. Midwives seemed frustrated to have to explain and speak to other members of the family to help the mother through the labour.’ The report contains 12 recommendations, including: - Surveys to include equality and diversity questions - It is important that future surveys requesting patient feedback should include questions regarding age, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual preference and gender identity. This will help to prevent gaps in the feedback and will ensure that services are as equitable as possible. - Translation and staff training in relation to race and culture - Translation services should be provided in a way that best meets the needs of patient, and staff training in relation to race and culture should be reviewed. - Additional support for women with no birth partner - It is important to recognise that a very high percentage of women are supported by birth partners and there is an expectation that women will have this informal support. If there is no birth partner, the woman should not be questioned as to why they are on their own and should receive even more support. This might include extremely vulnerable women who have experienced sex-trafficking and are pregnant following sexual violence, or young adults in care that don’t have family support. The report does not include a response from service providers.

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General details

Report title 
Baby steps: maternity services report
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Dorset
Date of publication 
Sunday, 1 April, 2018
Type of report 
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Communication between staff and patients
Complaints procedure
Consent to care and treatment
Health inequalities
Health protection
Patient records
Quality of care
Quality of staffing
Service delivery organisation and staffing
Staff attitudes
Staff levels
Staff training
Other information of note about this report 
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Not known
What type of organisation requested the work 
Primary research method used 
How was the information collected? 
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Secondary care services 
Community services 
Community healthcare and nursing services

Details about conditions and diseases

What type of pregnancy or maternity themes are included in the report 
New mothers

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Other population characteristics 
Refugees or asylum seekers
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Does the information include staff's views? 
Does the information include other people's views? 
Not known
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
Not known

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.