Working together for Better Births

Across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw (SYB), we are working with mums  and pregnant women to improve our neonatal and maternity care.

We have high rates of neonatal, infant and child mortality in our region.

This includes high teenage-mother rates and high smoking-in-pregnancy rates.

Part of the solution is linked to how we recruit more talented midwives and specialist health workers to our region.

We are continually looking to improve how we deliver neonatal care, how we can make care more consistent across the region and provide high quality aftercare support, such as through perinatal services.

A regional Hospital Services Review (2018), covering South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw, North Derbyshire and Mid-Yorkshire, paid particular attention to children’s and maternity services with recommendations now taking effect through Hosted Networks. Led by senior clinicians for both children’s and maternity services, these partnerships bring together existing networks but look at consolidating good practice across the region – as seen with our Continuity of Carer (Better Births) programme.

The Ockenden Report (2020) put forward Immediate and Essential Actions that all NHS Trusts should make in the areas of strengthening the partnerships between NHS Trusts (hospitals) and within local networks, listening more closely to pregnant women and their families and enabling staff who work together to train together as well as part of a multidisciplinary approach.

Maternity Services Five Year Plan

Maternity services are a key part of the healthcare system in South Yorkshire, supporting women and birthing people from pre-conception to pregnancy, through birth, and into early parenthood. In fact, nearly 16,000 babies were born here in 2021, and 7,500 in the first half of 2022.

Our vision is for maternity services across South Yorkshire to become safer, more personalised, kinder, and more family friendly; where every woman or birthing person has access to information to enable them to make decisions about their care; and where they and their baby can access support that is centred on their individual needs and circumstances.

This is a public facing five-year plan that sets out how we intend to improve equity for mothers and babies with a particular focus on those from Black, Asian, Mixed and minority ethnic backgrounds, and those living in the most deprived areas and those that we know have poorer health outcomes.. We also aim to improve race equality for staff. We will review this on a yearly basis and update the plan based on the 2021 Census data, when it is available.

Support during COVID-19

We are working hard to ensure that pregnant women and families from Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds in our region are aware of the support available to them during the pandemic.

These actions are important because:

  • The UKOSS study showed that 55% of pregnant women admitted to hospital with COVID-19 were from a BAME background.  Black pregnant women are 8 times more likely to be admitted to hospital and Asian women 4 times more likely.  This is not explained by a higher incidence in the big cities with higher BAME populations.
  • The MBRRACE-UK rapid review showed that 7 of the 8 women who died as a result of COVID-19 were BAME.  The recommendations of the review included that trusts implement the 4 actions set out in the letter.

The four key actions we are working towards are:

  1. Increasing support of at-risk pregnant women – e.g. making sure clinicians have a lower threshold to review, admit and consider multidisciplinary escalation in women from a BAME background.
  2. Reaching out and reassuring pregnant BAME women through tailored communications.
  3. Ensuring hospitals discuss vitamins, supplements and nutrition in pregnancy with all women. Women low in vitamin D may be more vulnerable to coronavirus so women with darker skin or those who always cover their skin when outside may be at particular risk of vitamin D insufficiency and should consider taking a daily supplement of vitamin D all year.
  4. Ensuring all providers record on maternity information systems the ethnicity of every woman, as well as other risk factors, such as living in a deprived area (postcode), co-morbidities, BMI and aged 35 years or over, to identify those most at risk of poor outcomes.

We are working aross the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw system to ensure that organisations working closely with pregant women from BAME groups know the NHS remains here - and ready to help - through offering the best possible care. 

ICON - Babies Cry, You Can COPE

In 2021, we started supporting the ICON programme across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw, promoting safe care and handling of newborn babies - educating parents about babies crying - and normalising this so that babies are not shaken (which can cause seizures, blindness and disability).

Find out more about how we're involved in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw.

Useful documents

South Yorkshire & Bassetlaw LMNS

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Healthier Together

A new website created with healthcare professionals across the region to support parents, families and carers with how to treat or find common childhood illnesses. 

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