Why do we need to transform?

In 2016, the National Maternity Review report; Better Births was published. It set out what people thought of the maternity services they used, what the challenges were for having safe, kind, personalised maternity services which empower those who are pregnant and those who support them to make real choice and access support centred on their individual needs and circumstances.

In Sussex, our maternity services are facing increasing challenges as they need to care for larger numbers of people who are having higher risk pregnancies, more pregnancies for people who are obese, more people over 35 years old when they are pregnant and more people who have other medical conditions as well as being pregnant. This is leading to higher rates of medical intervention in labour and increasing the length of hospital stays after birth, for a larger proportion of people who are pregnant. We recognise that we cannot continue to deliver our maternity care in the same way as we do now if we are to ensure that people in Sussex have maternity services that achieve the Better Births vision;

  • Offer maternity services that are safer, more personalised, more caring, and family-friendly
  • Ensure every woman has access to information to enable her to make decisions about her care
  • Provide support that is centred around the individual needs and circumstances of each woman and her baby
  • Support staff to deliver personalised care, with continuous learning
  • Promote innovation and break down organisational and professional boundaries to improve care

What does this mean in Sussex?

To make sure our local population in Sussex benefits fully from our maternity services, we looked at both the nationally recommended changes for maternity services and what the people who use maternity services in Sussex need and developed as a Sussex Health and Care Partnership (SHCP) our Local Maternity System Plan ‘Our vision for improving safety, choice and personalisation in maternity services’.

Our plan sets out how we will work together as a Local Maternity System (LMS) partnership, to achieve four core outcomes

  1. Safety and Perinatal Mortality – we will reduce stillbirth, maternal death, neonatal death, and brain injury at birth by 50% by 2025.
  2. Health inequalities and unwarranted variation – we will ensure all those who use maternity services are offered high quality care regardless of geography, circumstance, or background.
  3. Access to perinatal mental health services – we will focus on identifying early and supporting the mental health and wellbeing of those who are pregnant and families throughout the perinatal period.
  4. Pregnant person experience – we will work with those who are pregnant and the people who support them to provide a kind, caring and personalised maternity journey and co-design services with them and their representatives to meet their needs.

How are we doing this?

We have formed a partnership of people, known as The Sussex Local Maternity System (LMS) who are passionate about improving maternity services, working better with other services who support people who are thinking of getting pregnant, are pregnant, are giving birth and become parents as we know what and exciting but also challenging time this is.

Our partnership includes Obstetric, Neonatal and Perinatal Mental Health doctors, midwives and midwifery support workers, commissioners from the Local Authority and Health, Public Health colleagues in West Sussex, East Sussex and Brighton and Hove, Health Visitors, Early Help and Healthy Child colleagues, GPs and most importantly the people who represent the view of service users and ensure that the work we do is informed by and designed with service user representatives.

We make sure we can hear your voice, your experience and what we can do better as this is central to making the right changes which mean you have a better experience, feel safe and cared for. We pay for 4 Maternity Voices Partnerships (MVP) across Sussex. Each MVP has a chair, who is a current or previous maternity service user, and they work closely with the local hospital maternity team, the local commissioner of maternity services and others to understand and support with changes at your local service. The MVP Chairs then bring all their local knowledge and work with us across Sussex to make sure the changes in each of our transformation projects is focused on you. We have a Programme Board, and your voice is represented at this meeting through the MVP Chair who is a full member.

How will we know we have made services safer, kinder, more personalised and empowered choice?

  • We will have less stillbirths, neonatal deaths, maternal deaths, and brain injuries for babies at aiming to halve the rate of each by 2025.
  • All people who are booked with maternity services will have access to their notes from their smart device.
  • Everyone booked for maternity care in Sussex will have the ‘My Pregnancy and Birth Choices’ personalised plan to use, which supports them with information, thinking about the choices they want to make and having discussions in partnership with their midwife and doctors.
  • Enabling more people to have the choice of midwife led births, where this is safe for them, and their baby and they want this choice.
  • Infant feeding advice will be provided by maternity services that are all fully Baby Friendly Initiative accredited.
  • Sussex will wrap care around people using maternity services in the community, as far as possible, in community hubs.
  • More support to help you reduce risks for your pregnancy before you get pregnant with support to quit smoking, achieving, and maintaining a healthy weight etc.
  • A skilled maternity workforce in sufficient numbers to support you at all stages of your pregnancy, birth and postnatally delivering your care in the new ways needed to make care safer, kinder, more personalised and support you with making choices.
  • Improved postnatal support which is joined up across services and focuses in your recovery from birth and helping you as a unit to navigate the very important first couple of years of your baby’s life in a way that supports them and you to thrive.
  • Mental health and wellbeing services will be strengthened with Maternal Mental Health Clinics and an expanded Specialist Perinatal Mental Health offer which supports those who are pregnant and give birth up to 24 months instead of 12 months, where needed.

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