Families have praised a scheme at University Hospitals Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust which allows fathers or other loved ones to stay overnight with new mothers after they have given birth.
Around 30 people including new dads and some grandmas have stayed overnight with mums and new-born babies at Furness General Hospital’s maternity unit since the scheme launched in April.
The initiative is part of a national “always events” pilot being run by NHS England to develop healthcare services in response to what matters most to patients and families. A further nine trusts are involved in the project.
The initiative represents the latest step forward for the trust, which is striving to transform services in the wake of a major inquiry last year into maternity care failings at the hospital.
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Sascha Wells, the trust’s director of midwifery, gynaecology and obstetrics, said the overnight stay scheme came out of joint work by maternity staff and service users to identify key areas for improvement.
“We worked really closely with our existing service user groups, the maternity service liaison committee, and attended local family groups to talk to women and families about what they’d choose if they could have one thing all the time during their maternity care,” she said.
“There were lots of ideas and suggestions but the overwhelming theme that came through was they wanted their partners or family member to be able to stay overnight during labour and after birth,” she added.
“Those that stayed overnight have told us it helped both parties bond with the baby”
Since the project was launched there have been around 150 births at the unit with about 30 supporters staying over.
Sally Sager, maternity matron at Furness General Hospital, said the feedback had been “extremely positive” so far.
“Partners and families have enjoyed the opportunity to stay and learn about caring for a newborn baby, assist with baby care overnight and support the new mum,” she said.
“Those that stayed overnight have told us it helped both parties bond with the baby and allowed them to take an active role in early baby care rather than all the responsibility being on the new mum,” she added.
Following the scheme’s success, the option to stay overnight will continue to be offered to women and their families.
nick and sadie edmondson with baby ivor edmondson Morecambe Bay
Ms Sager said the hospital would also carry on gathering feedback “to see if there is anything we can change to make the experience even better”.
A new maternity unit is due to be built at Furness General by December 2017 with work set to start this autumn.
Ms Wells said facilities for partners and family members to stay overnight had been incorporated into plans for the new building, which will include 14 en-suite rooms.
“Involving service users in improving maternity services and listening to what they want is the way we do things now and their views really do make a difference,” she said.