Women are increasingly likely to have a good overall experience of maternity services provided in Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells according to a new national patient survey that rates confidence and trust in local services highly.

Women have a high regard for their midwives and the clinical teams caring for them, with 82% reporting that they definitely have confidence and trust in local maternity services – up 12% since the last time the survey was carried out in 2013.

Equally high numbers of women reported having a range of birth choices, of feeling appropriately advised, having enough time to ask questions or discuss their pregnancy, receiving the help they needed and being treated with respect and dignity.

The staff and facilities at Tunbridge Wells Hospital and in Maidstone Birth Centre (both run by Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust – MTW) are also helping partners be involved as much as they want to. 98% of women said their partners or someone close to them were able to be involved in their care during labour and birth, as much as they wanted to be, and 90% were able to stay with them as long as they wanted. All women have their own single rooms at Tunbridge Wells Hospital and the Birth Centre has homely double bedrooms.

Once in labour, women reported being offered a wide range of pain relief options ranging from alternative therapies such as hypno birthing to an epidural. More women are also using water as a form of pain relief in birthing pools (up 10%).

Jenny Cleary, Head of Midwifery and Clinical Director for Women’s Services, said: “We are pleased that so many women feel that staff have time to listen to them during their antenatal period and during labour and that they feel spoken to in a way they understand.

“They also feel involved in decision making about their care, are given appropriate advice and trust the staff who are caring for them.

“Our aim is to continue to build on the clear improvements that have occurred since 2013. We are working hard at raising awareness about the benefits of having a home birth or a birth at Maidstone Birth Centre as well as having the option to go to Tunbridge Wells for a hospital birth. Crowborough Birth Centre will also be coming a part of MTW in 2016 which will extend the options for where to birth their babies even further.”

The Trust’s maternity services have become increasingly popular with women and it expects to deliver over 6,000 babies for the first time during 2015/16. Engagement events are being planned to discuss with women how they want services to be further improved in the future.

The report comes shortly after a group of midwives from the Trust returned from training staff in China about Kangaroo care (skin to skin contact between mother and baby) at the behest of Save The Children in partnership with Chinese Health Authorities.

This followed a visit to the Trust earlier this year by senior Chinese health officials to see the benefits of Kangaroo care and to hear about our research in this area. The Trust’s midwives provided training for staff from eight specially selected hospitals in China. This included practical sessions at a leading maternity hospital in Beijing and Nanjing that resulted in some amazing and emotional scenes for parents and staff. The staff in China will now be introducing and embedding Kangaroo care in their hospitals as the start of a four year program to roll this out across China.
More than 20,000 women who gave birth during February 2015 took part in this year’s National Maternity Survey. Locally, 202 women who gave birth at either Tunbridge Wells Hospital or Maidstone Birth Centre (in February 2015) took part in the survey.

The Trust was rated among the best trusts in the country in 10 areas of the maternity survey – twice as many as in 2013. It has no areas rated within the bottom 20% of worst performing trusts.
The positive feedback mirrors monthly surveys undertaken by the Trust. Between January and November of this year, over 95% of women who took part in our maternity Friends and Family test said they were either likely or extremely likely to recommend our maternity services to their friends (antenatal 97%, delivery 96%, postnatal 95% positive recommendation – based on the feedback from 215 women for quality of antenatal care, 677 women for deliver and 672 women for postnatal care).

Local maternity survey results for 2015, 2013 and 2010 are available to view and compare on the maternity pages of the Trust’s website at www.mtw.nhs.uk