Healthwatch Suffolk’s pioneering project which led to Ipswich Hospital allowing partners of new mums to stay over night

The Maternity team at Ipswich Hospital along with new dad Carl Duff and baby Fletcher, celebrate the

The Maternity team at Ipswich Hospital along with new dad Carl Duff and baby Fletcher, celebrate the fact they will be supporting families to stay together throughout their hospital stay.

Birthing partners of women who have had their baby at Ipswich Hospital have shared their experiences of the hospital’s maternity pathway during an innovative engagement project.

A survey was conducted by Healthwatch Suffolk, at the request of the head of midwifery at Ipswich Hospital, asking birthing partners what they thought of the hospital’s antenatal care, neonatal unit, birthing provision and after-birth support.

The project was later expanded to also gather the views of mums who have given birth at Ipswich Hospital in the last three years.

It is thought to be the first time that engagement work has been conducted with birthing partners within Suffolk.

And there has already been one welcome outcome from the project, which will see the partners of women who are having their babies at Ipswich Hospital given the option to stay over night in all three of the hospital’s maternity wards. This was implemented after the survey found that 44% of birthing partners said they would have liked the opportunity to stay over night with mum and baby, and 52% of mums said they wanted their partner to stay with them but didn’t have the option.

Andy Yacoub, chief executive of Healthwatch Suffolk, an organisation that represents the patient voice in the county, said: “The decision to allow birthing partners to stay overnight with mum is fantastic and indicates to us that the hospital is willing to listen to, and act upon, the views people have shared with us. We know from our conversations with new parents and their families that this decision will make a big difference to the experience of mums and also birthing partners, who have a vital role to support mum while on the maternity wards.”

More than 370 people responded to the survey, which was active between October 2015 and January 2016.

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In total Healthwatch Suffolk made 10 recommendations to Ipswich Hospital about how its maternity pathway could be improved based on the findings of the report.

Among these recommendations were to offer more patient involvement with birth plan development; make sure antenatal classes fully prepare parents for birth; provide more opportunities for meet other expecting mums and dads; and to give more information about emotional changes new mums and partners might experience after the baby is born.

But overall the provision of care and treatment at all stages on the maternity pathway was rated positively by respondents and the majority of patients stated high levels of satisfaction with their experience at Ipswich Hospital.

Emma Hardwick, associate director of nursing and head of midwifery at Ipswich Hospital, said: “This is a very positive example of the importance of partnership.”