Oxfordshire births experience snapshot will be used to improve maternity services

The Horton General Hospital, Maternity Unit, in Banbury. NNL-160706-143719009
The Horton General Hospital, Maternity Unit, in Banbury. NNL-160706-143719009

A snapshot of women’s views on Oxfordshire’s maternity service show some elements have improved while a few are poorly rated.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) released results of its national survey this week.

Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital NNL-150710-123011001

Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital NNL-150710-123011001

Questionnaires were sent to 517 mothers who gave birth at the John Radcliffe Hospital and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust’s (OUH) midwife-only units last February.

The trust’s admin team received replies from 241 of those mothers – 47 per cent. The national response was 37 per cent.

The OUH ratings for a mother’s ability to move around during labour and the length of stay at the hospital were ‘better’ than indicated by mothers in the last survey in 2017.

Some areas, such as delays in being discharged and the amount of time partners were allowed to stay with their new family showed low ratings, at 5.8 and 5.2 out of ten respectively, deemed ‘about the same’ as the previous survey.

Nigel Acheson, CQC deputy chief inspector of hospitals and lead for maternity, said: “The findings highlight women’s views on all aspects of their maternity care from the first time they saw a clinician or midwife, during labour and birth, through to the care provided at home in the weeks following the arrival of their baby.”

The OUH results were ‘better’ for the section on labour and birth, ‘about the same’ for staff and also for care in hospital after the birth.

In the labour and birth section, the trust’s highest score was for partner involvement at 9.8 out of ten.

It received an improved 8.6 for a mum’s ability to move around in labour, nice for advice at the start of labour and 9.4 for skin-to-skin contact between mum and baby soon after birth. In responses to questions about staff, OUH got 9.5 for staff introduction before examination or treatment, 7.8 for not being left alone, 8.6 for mums’ concerns being taken seriously, 9.1 for timely attention during labour and 8.8 for being included in decisions about their care.

The trust received 9.4 for treating mothers with dignity and care during birth and 9.1 for confidence and trust in staff.

Ratings were lower for care in hospital after the birth.

While 7.9 for staying in hospital for the right amount of time was a better response than in the last survey, attitudes about delays in discharge were the same at 5.8, with 7.8 for receiving necessary attention in reasonable time following birth.

Receiving information was rated at 7.5, kind and understanding care earned 8.4 and cleanliness was rated at 9.1.

The questions were multiple choice with values given to different answers. For example for the question, ‘thinking about your care during labour and birth, were you spoken to in a way you could understand,’ ‘yes always’ earned ten points, ‘yes sometimes’ earned five points and no earned no points.

Sam Foster, chief nurse at the trust, said: “We’re pleased to see that we performed well in this survey and that the women who took part largely had positive experiences in our hospitals with high quality care and treatment during their pregnancy and birth.

“This is testament to the hard work and dedication of our staff and their efforts to give compassionate care to pregnant women and new mothers.

“While we’re glad of the positives, the survey also highlights where we can do better and we always strive to provide the best care possible.

“This survey, along with further patient and family feedback and our staff survey, will help us develop an action plan to improve services for women, their babies and their families.”

It was not possible to identify which mothers who responded had given birth at the JR or in one of the OUH’s midwife-only units.