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Community midwives get permanent memorial at Northampton Saints for work during pandemic

MR1439 Saints Plaque presentation

The plaque pictured with representatives from Northampton General Hospital’s Community Midwifery Team and the Saints

A permanent memorial to the work of the Community Midwifery Team during the pandemic was unveiled on Monday October 16, at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens, the home of Northampton Saints.

Fifteen community midwives and maternity support workers from Northampton General Hospital were based at the stadium from June 2020 through to March 2021 after GP surgeries stopped hosting clinics because of infection fears.

The community midwifery team then launched a search for new premises when Northampton Saints and cinch Stadium offered to help.

The memorial plaque engraved with 'This area was home to the Northampton General Hospital community midwifery services during the pandemic 2020-21', is a fitting tribute to the efforts of the maternity team and the incredible support they received from the community – including hospital and stadium staff, family members, police officers, Saints rugby players, and NGH volunteers and fundraisers.

Community Matron, Anne Richley, Community Sister Claire Dale and their team had the task of completely relocating their service to the stadium.

Anne, who has since retired, said: “When the GP surgeries closed we initially took over rooms in NGH but many pregnant women were terrified of coming into hospital during the pandemic.

“So we began to tour the local area during lockdown looking for other premises. Fortunately Northampton Saints embraced the challenge with open arms and we started the move.”

They faced a colossal task of creating clinical spaces in corridors, function rooms, and VIP boxes at the ground – unused at the time because of Covid restrictions.

Anne said: “It was huge community effort to get us moved in, settled, and up-and-running. We were making cabinets, putting in furniture, stocking drinks cabinets with medical supplies and making sure barriers were in place so women had safe places to be seen.

“We all felt that having a plaque as a permanent memorial to all the effort that went into the move, at a time of real crisis, was something that was fitting.”

Northampton Saints Chief Executive, Mark Darbon said: “The early part of the pandemic was a time of great fear across the nation and of gratitude for the front-line work being done by the NHS.

“We wanted to help and when the community midwifery team came to us we worked with them to create the temporary hubs so that hundreds of women could be supported at a time when they might otherwise have been feeling vulnerable.

“We felt it was very fitting that we create a permanent memorial which shows how the community came together to support the NHS at the most difficult period in its history.”

Head of Midwifery, Clare Flower said: “It is very fitting that the extraordinary efforts of our community midwives have been marked in such a public way.

“The team really pulled out all of the stops to create a safe and secure environment for women to attend for their pre-natal checks during those worrying early months of the pandemic.”

Deputy Director of Nursing, Jo Smith, said: “Many of our nursing and midwifery teams went the extra mile during the Covid pandemic and the community midwifery team are a great example of that.

“We want to thank everyone who was involved in the relocation efforts and who helped us to create a supportive environment for women at such a difficult time.”

In October 2021 the Royal College of Midwives presented Anne Richley and Claire Dale with an Excellence in Maternity Care During a Global Pandemic Award for their work in keeping community maternity services running during this time.

At the presentation on Monday were Anne Richley and Claire Dale, maternity support worker Amena Elmanfi, midwifery matron, Ola Oluwatayo, Mark Darbon CEO Saints, Andy Tresias, retired head of operations Saints/cinch Stadium, Saints Player Paul Hill, Rob Welsford, Anne’s husband and a retired police officer, and Kristy Coates, current Head of Operations at Saints.

The Community Midwifery team would like to thank their families, Northamptonshire police officers (retired and serving), volunteers, many hospital staff, Saints players, and staff from Franklin Gardens, especially Andy Tresias who manged cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens. Also all the families who used our services at this time for their support and understanding.

Posted on Tuesday 17th October 2023
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