Informing change in birthing partner and visiting policies
Devon Maternity & Neonatal Voices Partnership spoke with local people about their experiences of using maternity services in Devon. The findings from the engagement project helped informed change in visitor policies at Torbay and South Devon NHS Trust.
In February 2022, Devon MNVP heard from over 200 people about their experiences of maternity service visiting policies and the involvement of birthing partners during maternity care. We used this feedback to inform improvements in personalisation of maternity services in Devon, in particular through changes to visitor policies at Torbay and South Devon NHS Trust.
Issues highlighted during the Covid-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic led to a particularly difficult time in maternity care, including around visitor restrictions. We regularly heard about people’s experiences of being allowed minimal partner support during this challenging time. So, as restrictions eased, we felt it would be a good time to look at the needs and views of maternity service users.
Gathering feedback from service users
In February 2022, we ran a survey and gathered feedback from 207 maternity service users about their recent experiences of Birthing Partner and Visiting policies. 86.5% of people who completed the survey wanted 24 hours visiting for a nominated birthing partner.
The Royal Devon University Healthcare Trust East and Torbay and South Devon Trust told us they previously had a 24-hour birthing partner provision. However, although they found some benefits for service users and staff, there were also challenges and complaints from service users, for example, around space, noise, facilities, security, and safeguarding.
Sharing experiences and ideas to inform change
We discussed our findings and previous staff and service user’s experiences at our quarterly meeting in May 2023, and agreed recommendations for how policies could be improved to better meet the needs of those using maternity services in Devon.
We shared our findings and recommendations with the Local Maternity and Neonatal Services (LMNS) to inform their development work around personalisation and choice in the care provided for local people.
Torbay and South Devon NHS Trust have since introduced 24-hour birthing partner support for anyone being induced antenatally within a side room. We continue to work with all the NHS Trusts to enhance their birthing partner and visiting policies in line with the service user feedback.
For more information about our survey findings, the issues raised and our recommendations for change, contact DMNVP for a copy of the summary report: firstname.lastname@example.org
“It looks like Gloucester allow overnight visitors. That would be perfect on the maternity ward if, like me, you end up having a long three-day induction. The nights are hard enough to get through on your own.”
“After an emergency C-section, they put my baby in the cot on the other side of the cubicle and I couldn’t get out of bed to reach her.”
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