Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust is celebrating Midwifery Week at the North Devon District Hospital, to highlight this important area of hospital and community life and to raise awareness of midwifery as a career. All babies born at the North Devon District Hospital during Midwifery Week will be presented with a special certificate. There will also be a display stand in the Ladywell Unit foyer.
Midwifery week follows hot on the heels of the Department of Health’s launch of ‘Maternity Matters: Choice, access and continuity of care in a safe service’ which is described as ‘a new vision for maternity services’.
Many of the recommendations from this new document are already being implemented or planned in North Devon. The main themes are midwifery-led care, choice of how to access maternity care, choice of place of birth, choice of postnatal care, and accessibility and integration of services in community settings.
Northern Devon Healthcare has been practising integrated team midwifery since 2001, when this more-flexible way of working was piloted in South Molton. Midwifery-led care is where a midwife is the lead for the care of a woman and her unborn baby. For uncomplicated pregnancies, she would care for a woman though pregnancy, deliver her baby and organise early postnatal care.
Women with increased risks, such as high blood pressure, would have their care led by a consultant and the midwives would continue to care for her in a supportive role, working closely with the consultant to monitor the wellbeing of mother and baby. Since October 2006, with the introduction of Midwifery Led Care, 529 women have been booked and cared for by midwives in this way.
North Devon is particularly proud of its record concerning the number of home births each year. In 2006 this reached 8.9%, against a national average of less than 2%.
It is also hoped that there will soon be a Day Assessment Unit available to pregnant women who might be experiencing problems. Often this would mean they can come to the hospital and be seen and cared for by a midwife, and referred directly to a consultant colleague if necessary, without having to be admitted as an inpatient.
Julia Drury, Head of Midwifery Services said:
“Here at Northern Devon Healthcare Trust we’re very proud of our maternity services, and are aiming to ensure pregnant women get the right care, in the right place at the right time.
“We have a constant programme of improvement and are pleased to say that our main themes are those contained in the Government’s Maternity Matters document.
“The Trust is currently recruiting more midwives to cover for maternity leave and we have plans that should enable them to be more available to the women in their care. We also want to develop more midwifery assistants and clerical staff, to relieve trained midwives of the unnecessary aspects of paper and computer work and free them up to spend more time with mums-to-be. “Midwifery offers a rewarding and challenging career, with good remuneration and plenty of opportunities for career progression. Also we train student midwives here at the North Devon District Hospital, which can be an advantage for people with strong local connections. We would love to hear from anyone who would like to know more about midwifery and can give them a real insight into the job.”
Anyone, male or female, who would like to find out more about the qualifications needed to be a midwife, or job opportunities at the North Devon District Hospital, should contact Andrea Stebbings, Practice Development Midwife. Email: Andrea.Stebbings@ndevon.swest.nhs.uk.
Andrea can put people in touch with newly-qualified midwifery students, who can give an up-close and personal perspective on their chosen career.