An Arnold councillor has called on hospital bosses to start ‘listening to women in labour’ as they look at ways to improve Nottingham’s maternity services.
Councillor Michelle Welsh, who represents Arnold South for Nottinghamshire County Council, shared her experiences of giving birth in a city hospital during a meeting of the council’s Health Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday (June 8).
Labour councillor Welsh, who now has a 14-month old son called Billy, described the experience as ‘extremely poor at times’ during a discussion on ways to overhaul the city’s maternity services after the Care Quality Commission (CQC) called for improvements to be made.
The improvements calls are based on the findings of an unannounced inspection that took place back in October 2020.
During the inspections the CQC found that risk assessments which women were expected to have undertaken during their care were not always completed in line with national guidance.
They also reported that staff did not always use a nationally recognised tool to identify women at risk of deterioration.
Inspectors also said that the service – which is run by Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (NUH) – did not always have enough midwifery staff with the right qualifications, skills, training and experience to keep women safe from avoidable harm and to provide the right care and treatment.
A follow-up inspection this April found that some improvements had been put in place, but the CQC has called for further changes to be made.
Councillor Welsh told the meeting she hoped hospital bosses would listen to women who have used the service when looking for ways to make improvements.
“Until now I have never spoken openly about my experiences with maternity services, as I have found it far too difficult emotionally,” she said.
“While I received fabulous care from my consultant prior to birth, both my baby and I received some of the worst of care once he was born. We were informed that improvements to services had been made, and it is important that this continues as a matter of urgency.
“Women should be heard, but too many women feel that they are not listened to, especially when it matters most. Women should feel empowered to share their experiences and know that this will lead to changes and improvement. There is no room for complacency, only change with women and babies at the very heart of it’
Nottinghamshire Labour Group Leader Kate Foale thanked Cllr Welsh for sharing such personal experiences in the interests of improving the service, and welcomed NUH returning to provide more detailed information regarding their action plan.
“It is encouraging that as a result of councillors input at today’s meeting, NUH understand that they need to improve on how they communicate and capture the experiences of women accessing maternity services.
“It is absolutely crucial that pregnant women in Nottinghamshire can feel confident that both they and their babies will be properly cared for before, during and after giving birth.
“I’m pleased that NUH are seeking to improve the service, and I hope that listening to women will form a central part of that improvement, so that Nottinghamshire can offer a 21st century maternity experience for mums and their babies”.