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Trust builds on progress in the NHS Maternity Services Survey 2023

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The West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s (WSFT) maternity services have seen another positive set of results from the NHS Maternity Services Survey 2023.

Sitting as part of the NHS Patient Survey Programme commissioned by the Care Quality Commission, which collects patient feedback on numerous services, this year marks the tenth survey to date.

The survey focuses on collecting feedback across three categories of maternity care: antenatal care; labour and birth; and postnatal care, which are then broken down into seven sub-areas. The responses were given by service users who had been cared for during 2023.

This year’s results highlight an upward trend of improvement in the quality and safety of the maternity care provided by WSFT. For the second year in a row, no areas saw a decrease in the standard of care when compared to other trusts across England, and no areas saw a decrease in the score received last year.

The WSFT’s top scores, when compared to the average score in England, are in areas that include: access to our midwives when necessary after having given birth (7.7 out of 10); ensuring patients can go home as soon as they would like to after giving birth without delay (7.6 out of 10); being able to ask questions about their labour and birth after the baby was born (7.4 out of 10); having the relevant feeding information during pregnancy (8 out of 10) and information about the possible impacts on mental health after giving birth (8.3 out of 10).

When compared to 2022’s results, two areas saw statistically significant increases: ensuring patients can go home as soon as they would like to after giving birth without delay (from 6.2 in 2022 to 7.6 in 2023) and the cleanliness of the hospital room or ward (from 9 in 2022 to 9.5 in 2023).

The Trust scored in the top five trusts across the region in all seven sub-areas of the three categories, with two sub-areas – ‘care in the ward after birth’ and ‘feeding your baby’ – placing WSFT as first.

West Suffolk Hospital Labour Suite team

Karen Newbury, director of midwifery for WSFT, said: “The results from this year’s survey represent a significant amount of work that has taken place to improve the service we provide. Everyone involved in maternity services at the Trust have worked extremely hard to provide higher quality and safer care for mothers and birthing people, babies, and families. I would like to thank them all for their enormous contribution.”

Karen Newbury, Director of Midwifery for WSFT

To help build on last year’s results, the Trust focused on developing areas such as antenatal and postnatal care, which included making mothers and pregnant people more aware of the choices they have in relation to their birth. The Trust also implemented the discharge coordinator role to help mothers and birthing people and their babies leave hospital to return home without unnecessary delay and with the information they need to care for their newborn.

Additionally, the teams providing maternity care have been expanded following a focus on recruitment and retention, which led to more than 20 midwives and numerous maternity support workers and ward clerks joining the team.

The annual survey also highlights areas which can be improved. In this year’s survey, these include areas such as how long partners or someone else was able to stay at a mother or birthing person’s bedside, clinicians’ awareness of a patient’s medical history and pain management.

Karen Newbury continued: “We know that there is always more we need to do to improve our care, and this annual survey highlights to us areas that we are already focusing on and areas that we need to return our focus to.”

After receiving the NHS Maternity Services Survey results, the Trust conducted its own survey of its maternity service users. From this, in the spring, the Trust will be trialling a new initiative at the West Suffolk Hospital to allow an adult support partner to be bedside on the first night to support the mother or birthing person and baby. Additionally, the Trust will engage with current service users to co-produce an action plan to address the other areas for improvement.

Sue Wilkinson, executive chief nurse for the WSFT, said: “These results showcase the amazing work of the team and how far they have come over the last two years. While there is more we need to do and continue to focus on, I hope it is reassuring that we are making sustained progress on further developing and improving the care we deliver.”

Sue Wilkinson, Executive Chief Nurse for the WSFT

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