South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Maternity System (SYB LMS) has successfully secured £29,400 funding to ensure women and their families get the best possible care during pregnancy and childbirth.

The funding has been allocated for South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw to put in place a more rigorous and standardised level of education for Maternity Support Workers.

Maternity Support Workers are the frontline of a family's journey through pregnancy, childbirth and the first few days of birth. They work under the supervision of a registered midwife and help to care for mothers and babies, make routine observations (temperature, pulse, blood pressure, breathing, etc), help educate parents one-to-one or in groups, take blood samples for testing, prepare equipment and promote breastfeeding. They work in the community, in post-natal wards, delivery suites, maternity theatres and midwifery led units.

Support worker roles have long been present in maternity services, with the notion of a Maternity Support Worker role more explicitly supporting mothers and babies first introduced by the Department of Health in 2004.

Reducing the differences in skills and experience of those undertaking the role will help to ensure that women receive good quality care provision. The new consistency will also provide the Maternity Support Workers with high quality education and training to support them in the assessment of competencies, as well as ensuring they are paid correctly for the work they do as part of the maternity team.

Lindsay Keightley, Midwife in Doncaster and lead for the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Local Maternity Systems (LMS) said: “Health Education England piloted a new Maternity Support Worker (MSW) Competency Framework in 2019 in North West London and as it was successful they invited applications for roll out in other parts of the country. The vital contribution Maternity Support Workers make to the delivery of safe and personalised care for women and their babies is widely recognised and we feel putting this framework in place will strengthen that even further.”

Professor Des Breen, Medical Director for the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System said: “The pandemic has shown us more than ever before the value of our health and care support staff. COVID-19 has meant we’ve faced challenges of high levels of staff sickness and staff absences for caring responsibilities, and having a wide range of staff trained to deliver the highest quality care possible is vital to get us through the challenging months ahead. The MSW Competency Framework will help everyone to recognise the huge role that Maternity Support Workers play in providing the best care for women and their families during pregnancy and childbirth.”

The MSW Competency Framework will offer Maternity Support Workers staff greater flexibility in worker in other maternity systems across the country where the framework is also being put in place, helping to reduce variation and duplications in training.

Developing the framework in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw will take place over a four month period with midwife project leads appointed to undertake this work in each of the acute Trusts.