Delivering better maternity care conference

The King's Fund

Event highlights

For midwives and maternity professionals, this event explored the challenges around maternity service safety and provided practical ideas to support maternity units to provide better care.

Presentations and highlights from this conference

Cathy Warwick, General Secretary, Royal College of Midwives, looks at the current standards of maternity care in the UK and the barriers to achieving better care.

Mark Davies, Director of Children, Families and Health Inequalities at the Department of Health, talks through how commissioning for better maternity services can work in the new NHS.

Annie Francis, Programme Director of the Neighbourhood Midwives initiative, looks at the qualities and characteristics midwives need and the challenges and barriers they face when trying to work in different ways.

Belinda Phipps, Chief Executive of the National Childbirth Trust, looks at what maternity service choices are available and why having choice is important for mothers.

Simon Cunningham, Consultant at Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, explains how his team have improved teamworking, communication and governance arrangements in their maternity services.

About the event

In 2008 the report of the independent inquiry commissioned by The King's Fund, Safe Births: Everybody's business, and the Healthcare Commission's review of maternity services, Towards Better Births, identified similar areas in need of improvement, including staffing, training and communication.

In order to support to staff implement these recommendations and to transfer guidelines into practical tools, The King's Fund launched the Safer Births programme combining the expertise of The King's Fund with that of its partners. The King's Fund selected 12 trusts to work with as part of an improvement network launched in September 2009 with the aim to improve the outcomes of care during labour and birth for mothers and babies. Over the course of 18 months, The King's Fund provided customised support to the selected maternity teams.

The programme concluded with a conference that provided a platform for learning and celebrated the involvement of all 12 sites who participated in the Safer Births Programme between October 2009 and March 2011.

One year on, in order to share that learning more widely, and to review the current challenges for maternity care, The King's Fund hosted this Delivering better maternity care conference.

The conference also launched the Improving safety in maternity services toolkit that consists of a range of tools, templates and 'hints and tips' for maternity teams wishing to improve the safety of care. The toolkit draws on the experiences of 12 trusts across England.



Breakfast workshop: hosted by Philips

Health and wellbeing beyond birth: Why do UK mums have among the worlds' highest drop-off rates for breastfeeding?

This workshop offered new insights on why UK mums stop breastfeeding within the first few weeks of delivery. It summarised the results of a global survey among approximately 4,000 mothers across seven countries commissioned by the Philips Centre for Health and Well-being.

A diverse stakeholder panel discussed the role of government, industry, academia and ultimately health care professionals in promoting breastfeeding for six months in accordance with WHO guidelines.

Panelists included:

  • Yana Richens, Joint Editor-in-Chief, British Journal of Midwifery
  • Assistant Professor Janine Stockdale, Research Fellow, Royal College of Midwives, and Expert in Applied Motivational Theory and Breastfeeding Instructional Design
  • Annie Francis, Programme Director, Neighbourhood Midwives
  • Marko de Jager, Head of Clinical Affairs, Philips AVENT
  • Professor Mike Woolridge, Research Lead for Institute of Health and Social Care at Faculty of Medicine, University of Leads, and Health Senior Lecturer in Infant Feeding at University of Leeds, formerly Director of UNICEF-UK's 'Baby Friendly Initiative' at UNICEF UK

Session one: Delivering better maternity services

Keynote address: What makes 'better' care?
Professor Cathy Warwick CBE, General Secretary, Royal College of Midwives

Improving confidence in the safety of maternity care: the role of the regulator
Karen Wilson, Regulatory Policy Manager, Care Quality Commission

Delivering better care: launch of the Safer Births Toolkit

Session two: The challenges facing maternity services

Welcome back
Chair: Jacque Gerrard, Director, Royal College of Midwives

Who would be a midwife?
Annie Francis, Programme Director, Neighbourhood Midwives

Reducing inequalities and meeting the needs of pregnant women with complex needs
Christine Duncan, Change Manager, Maternity Services, Children and Families Directorate, Scottish Government

Improving safety and quality within financial constraints
Professor Jane Sandall, Professor of Social Science and Women's Health and Director, Innovations Programme NIHR King's Patient Safety and Service Quality Research Centre, King's College London

Questions and discussion

Session three: Achieving better care

Welcome back
Chair: Vinice Thomas, Improvement Lead for Safer Births Programme, The King's Fund

Why choice matters? Improving the experience of maternity care
Belinda Phipps, Chief Executive, National Childbirth Trust

How the Safer Births Programme has made a difference to quality and safety
Simon Cunningham, Obstetrics and Gynaecology Consultant, Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Questions and discussion

Session four: Where next for maternity services?

Welcome and introduction
Dr Anna Dixon, Director of Policy, The King's Fund

Keynote address: Commissioning better maternity services in the new NHS
Mark Davies, Director of Children, Families and Health Inequalities, Department of Health

Panel discussion

  • Are midwife-led units the future?
  • Are too many babies born in hospital?
  • Will we have enough midwives?
  • How can we improve confidence in maternity care?

Panelists included:

  • Dr Anthony Falconer, President, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
  • Beverley Beech, Chair, Association for Improvements in Maternity Services
  • Sue Stephens, Doula, Kent
  • Nicola North, Antenatal Teacher, Childbirth Trust and Student Midwife