Lincolnshire midwife joins national project to make maternity services safer

A Lincolnshire midwife has been appointed as one of 16 health professionals in England to lead a programme of work which will help to reduce the number of babies who die or are born with brain injuries during or shortly after labour.

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A Lincolnshire midwife has been appointed as one of 16 health professionals in England to lead a programme of work which will help to reduce the number of babies who die or are born with brain injuries during or shortly after labour.

Samantha Tinkler, Divisional Governance Support Manager for Lincolnshire’s hospitals, is part of the group. All of the members are either midwives or obstetricians from separate NHS trusts across England, and are working with the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) to look at how factors such as workplace culture and staff wellbeing can affect care.

Around 700,000 babies are born in the UK every year. The vast majority are born safely, but more than 1,000 will die or suffer a brain injury during or shortly after term labour. Many of these cases are preventable.

As part of the Royal Colleges’ Each Baby Counts+Learn and Support programme, Sam will co-design and test new approaches to improve the safety and quality of care by examining how healthcare professionals work together. They will work directly with women and staff at their own NHS trust to test their ideas and will be supported to develop their leadership skills. They will use what they learn to help other trusts in England improve their working practices.

Mandy Forrester, Programme Manager for the Each Baby Counts+Learn and Support initiative, said: “We are delighted that Sam will be bringing her knowledge and experience to this project. Midwives and obstetricians always strive to provide excellent care, but we know circumstances can be difficult. Services are underfunded; staff might feel overstretched, stressed and exhausted; and workplace pressures can make it difficult to raise issues or ask questions. We know issues like this can impact on the level of care women and their babies receive.

“If the NHS is to achieve its ambition of reducing the number of babies who die or sustain brain injuries during or shortly after birth, we must look at workplace culture. We want the UK to become known for being the safest place in the world to give birth, and a better working environment will inevitably lead to better and safer care for women and their babies.”

Sam said: “I am excited to be a part of this major initiative. Staff wellbeing and workplace culture can often be overlooked when it comes to assessing standards of care, but they play a major role. I am looking forward to bringing my expertise to this project as well as learning from others in order to develop best practice for the NHS.”

The first project Sam and her 15 counterparts will look at is around how issues are currently raised and handled in the workplace. The group will use evidence, including when issues were escalated and managed well, to develop and test a range of ways to promote best practice.

Each Baby Counts+Learn and Support is one of a number of initiatives that contributes to NHS England’s national Maternity Transformation Programme to improve maternity care. It is currently funded until December 2021 by a grant from the Department of Health and Social Care. For more information, visit: https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/audit-quality-improvement/ebc-learn-support/

Notes to editors: 

  • About Each Baby Counts+Learn and Support

Each Baby Counts+Learn and Support is a joint initiative by the RCOG and RCM. It aims to help improve maternity care by focusing on the wellbeing and working practices of healthcare professionals. It focuses on how workplace culture and staff wellbeing can affect the safety and quality of maternity care.

Each Baby Counts+Learn and Support is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care and will run until December 2021. The project has evolved from recommendations made by the original Each Baby Counts programme, an annual audit of safety incidents during labour.

Each Baby Counts+Learn and Support is part of NHS England’s Maternity Transformation Programme to improve maternity services across England and has close links with the Maternity and Neonatal Safety Improvement programme. This will ensure consistent and sustained safety systems are implemented across the NHS in England.

  • About the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG)

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is a medical charity that champions the provision of high quality women’s healthcare in the UK and beyond. It is dedicated to encouraging the study and advancing the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. It does this through postgraduate medical education and training and the publication of clinical guidelines and reports on aspects of the specialty and service provision. www.rcog.org.uk

  • About the Royal College of Midwives (RCM)

The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. It provides workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance and information, and learning opportunities with a broad range of events, conferences and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website at www.rcm.org.uk