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Saint Mary's get to the heart of maternity care

Team wins top UK award for service for pregnant women with heart problems


Saint Mary's have won the RCM Award for 'Excellence in Maternity Care', one of the UK's top midwifery prizes at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) Annual Awards.    
Maternity team collecting their award from Natasha Kaplinsky

The award was given for their work with pregnant women with complex heart problems, one of the leading causes of maternal mortality. The two midwives and their wider team set up a specialist service in 2004. This involved appointing a specialist midwife and also moving antenatal appointments for these women from the outpatients department to the antenatal clinic. This simple change meant that the focus was more on the women's' pregnancy and wellbeing, rather than their heart condition, and generated very positive responses from the women using the service.

Alongside this the team also arranged for the other relevant clinics the women need to attend to run at the same time. This made it easier for the women to have different aspects of their care managed together during one visit, rather than multiple visits to different clinics.

The high dependency facilities on the Delivery Unit were also improved and expanded, enable some women with heart disease requiring critical care around the time of delivery to be looked after on in a maternity environment, instead of being transferred to the Intensive Care Unit. This means they are not separated from their baby and improves bonding between mother and baby and enables breastfeeding. 

As a result the service looked after 86 new women in 2011 compared with just 43 in 2004, and over two-thirds of the women (68%) have a vaginal delivery. This is a high rate for women with such complex medical needs.

The team is most proud of the fact that there are several women with severe heart disease who now have children, who would not have embarked on, or survived the pregnancy had it not been for the service they provide. There are also many more women for whom this service resulted in better outcomes for the woman or the baby, either by prolonging the gestation, or by ensuring that the woman was delivered where all the facilities and professionals are co located and have expertise in managing women with very high risk pregnancies.

The team were presented with their award at the Royal College of Midwives Annual Midwifery Awards ceremony in London on the 25th January 2012, at the Grand Connaught Rooms, Covent Garden.

Kathy said: "We are honoured and delighted to be given the RCM award.  The service we offer at Saint Mary's really does give women the hope of having the family they long for and it's a service we're very proud of.  It's absolutely a team effort and so we want to also acknowledge everyone who works with us to help provide this service to our women."

Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: "This demonstrates that there is wonderful and ground-breaking work being done by midwives and I congratulate Kathryn, Claire and the whole team on winning this award.

"Midwifery practice is always moving forward and innovating. This shows that if we give midwives the resources and the freedom to do this, the result is better services for women, babies and their families."