This report details actions taken by Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust to improve maternity and neonatal services for women from Black African and Black Caribbean backgrounds.
Our 2023 investigation into the experiences of Black African and Black Caribbean women using maternity services provided by Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust (SWBH) revealed issues such as:
- Lack of continuity of carer leading to anxiety and inability to discuss issues such as mental health.
- Failure to be referred to midwives by their GP, which delayed screening and scans.
- Poor staff attitudes and behaviour.
- Lack of access to interpreters or translators.
- Not feeling they had real choice around where to give birth, and what type of birth to have.
In response, SWBH has now implemented a number of changes including:
- Increasing the number of midwives from Black African backgrounds, to ensure maternity services better reflect the communities they serve.
- Hiring a Best Start Midwife, attached to GP surgeries in areas with high numbers of Black African and Black Caribbean families, to provide better continuity of carer.
- Employing a Patient Experience Midwife to capture and respond to patient feedback.
- Introducing on-the-spot virtual interpreters in maternity and neonatal services, in addition to current telephone and in-person interpretation services.
- ‘Drop in’ antenatal classes without the need to pre-book, to improve access for ethnically diverse and digitally excluded families.
The recommendations for changes made in the original investigation have also been taken up by Birmingham and Solihull Local Maternity and Neonatal Services Stakeholder Council (BUMP), which is undertaking work to improve maternity services across the whole of Birmingham and Solihull, focusing on:
- Improved engagement and increased use of service user experiences to improve services
- Improved communication and information on maternity services shared with service users
- Focus on person-centred care and choice for birthing mothers
- Responsiveness and improvements to plans to capture issues of equality and equity