In 2016, the National Maternity Review report; Better Births was published. It set out what people thought of the maternity services they used, what the challenges were for having safe, kind, personalised maternity services which empower those who are pregnant and those who support them to make real choice and access support centered on their individual needs and circumstances.
In Sussex, our maternity services are facing increasing challenges as they need to care for larger numbers of people who are having higher risk pregnancies, more pregnancies for people who are obese, more people over 35 years old when they are pregnant and more people who have other medical conditions as well as being pregnant. This is leading to higher rates of medical intervention in labour and increasing the length of hospital stays after birth, for a larger proportion of people who are pregnant. We recognise that we cannot continue to deliver our maternity care in the same way as we do now if we are to ensure that people in Sussex have maternity services that achieve the Better Births vision;
To make sure our local population in Sussex benefits fully from our maternity services, we looked at both the nationally recommended changes for maternity services and what the people who use maternity services in Sussex need, and developed as a Sussex Health and Care Partnership (SHCP) our Local Maternity System Plan ‘Our vision for improving safety, choice and personalisation in maternity services’.
Our plan sets out how we will work together as a Local Maternity System (LMS) partnership, to achieve four core outcomes
We have formed a partnership of people, known as The Sussex Local Maternity System (LMS) who are passionate about improving maternity services, working better with other services who support people who are thinking of getting pregnant, are pregnant, are giving birth and become parents as we know what and exciting but also challenging time this is.
Our partnership includes Obstetric, Neonatal and Perinatal Mental Health doctors, midwives and midwifery support workers, commissioners from the Local Authority and Health, Public Health colleagues in West Sussex, East Sussex and Brighton and Hove, Health Visitors, Early Help and Healthy Child colleagues, GPs and most importantly the people who represent the view of service users and ensure that the work we do is informed by and designed with service user representatives.
We make sure we can hear your voice, your experience and what we can do better as this is central to making the right changes which mean you have a better experience, feel safe and cared for. We pay for 4 Maternity Voices Partnerships (MVP) across Sussex. Each MVP has a chair, who is a current or previous maternity service user and they work closely with the local hospital maternity team, the local commissioner of maternity services and others to understand and support with changes at your local service. The MVP Chairs then bring all their local knowledge and work with us across Sussex to make sure the changes in each of our transformation projects is focused on you. We have a Programme Board and your voice is represented at this meeting through the MVP Chair who is a full member.