Mothers Have Say On Maternity Services

Pregnant women and mothers are now having their say about NHS-funded maternity services.

NHS England has this week begun asking the Friends and Family Test (FFT) question in every NHS maternity unit across the country, including on the south coast.

The first results of FFT for maternity services will be announced towards the end of January 2014 when three months’ worth of feedback has been gathered and analysed.

NHS England starting gathering the views of women from the 1st October, asking for their opinions in the following areas:

*Antenatal care – to be surveyed at the 36 week antenatal appointment.

*Birth and care on the postnatal ward – to be surveyed at discharge from the ward or birth unit or following a home birth.

*Postnatal community care – to be surveyed at discharge from the care of the community midwifery team to the care of the health visitor or GP, usually at 10 days postnatal.

Gill Walton, Director of Midwifery at the Portsouth QA, said:

“Rolling out the Friends and Family Test for maternity services is another massive step to promote transparency in the NHS and to concentrate our focus on improvement in care. It gives pregnant women and mums a voice and will help parents-to-be make informed choices over the care they receive throughout pregnancy.

“Once again we are putting parents at the heart of what we do, empowering the public, allowing them to give clear and honest feedback on the services that families use every day.”

Jane Cummings, NHS England’s Chief Nursing Officer, welcomed the extension of the Friends and Family Test to maternity services, saying:

 “Maternity staff work hard to provide excellent services for women across the NHS. The Friends and Family test provides an additional opportunity to capture feedback relating to Maternity Services. It builds on the culture of responsiveness to women’s experiences of care in real time, encouraging swift interventions when required, as well as providing positive feedback for staff when things go well.

“As hospitals are encouraged to follow up women’s responses with further questions about why they answered in the way they did, we are making sure that every pregnant woman or new mum has an opportunity to be heard. This will help us transform maternity services and better understand and meet local families’ needs.”

With more than 668,000 births in NHS-funded maternity units every year, NHS England is confident of gathering a huge amount of feedback from women that it can pass on to it maternity staff which include more than 25,000 midwives.

The test, where patients are asked if they would recommend the same service to a friend or family member – is already an integral part of A&E and acute inpatient units, providing patients with a platform to give their views and help shape better NHS services.

In the first four months since Friends and Family Test was introduced, more than 400,000 patients have had their say.

The latest feedback shows:

-The number of wards with the most positive score (+100) has risen slightly from 560 in July to 562 in August.

-83 NHS trusts increased their A&E response rate from the previous month

-The overall inpatient response rate increased from 27.8% to 28.9%

-The England level A&E response rate rose from 10.4% to 11.3%.

-The questions and related methodology for the Friends and Family Test for maternity services have been developed following a test phase at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, the Liverpool Women’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

Clinical experts from the maternity field were also involved in the development of the guidance, including the Royal College of Midwives, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Mumsnet and the National Childbirth Trust.

Women will be asked up to four Friends and Family Test questions. Some women will not experience a post-labour ward and, therefore, do not need to respond to question 3 below. Each question seeks feedback about each specific part of their care:

1: “How likely are you to recommend our antenatal services to friends and family if they needed similar care or treatment?”

2: “How likely are you to recommend our labour ward/birthing unit/homebirth services to friends and family if they needed similar care or treatment?”

3: “How likely are you to recommend our postnatal ward to friends and family if they needed similar care or treatment?”

4: “How likely are you to recommend our postnatal community service to friends and family if they needed similar care or treatment?”

The first results of maternity FFT will be published in January 2014 – alongside FFT results for A&E and Inpatient units – on the NHS Choices website.