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Northampton General Hospital awarded funding for project to save babies' lives

Northampton General Hospital has been awarded a share of £250,000 in government funding to invest in a project that will benefit mothers and their newborn babies.

The announcement follows Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt inviting NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts to submit bids for a share of the Maternity Safety Innovation Fund back in October, as part of a major drive to improve safety on maternity wards across the country.

A panel of experts were asked to assess bids based upon their creativity, cost effectiveness and potential for benefiting the wider health system.

Smoking in pregnancy

The panel judged almost 100 applications, with Northampton General Hospital one of 25 successful Trusts to receive a share of funding. The Trust will receive £10,820 to fund an innovative new pathway so women who smoke are offered increased antenatal surveillance and support. Smoking in pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and low birth weight. It also increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. The fund will be used to implement a midwife led growth scan clinic for women.

If successful, judges believe this programme has the potential to benefit other maternity units, as part of a roll out across England.

The funding announcement comes as part of the government’s ambition to halve the rates of stillbirths, neonatal and maternal deaths in England by 2030.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “This government is committed to giving mums-to-be the safest maternity care in the world. In Northampton it’s great to see that progress is being made, but there’s still work to do to reach our aim of halving stillbirth, neonatal and maternal death rates s in England by 2030. I look forward to seeing the results of this innovative project and the positive impact on mothers and babies."

Impact of smoking on a baby’s growth and development

Carolyn Fox, director of nursing, midwifery and patient services at Northampton General Hospital said: “Smoking during pregnancy carries very real risks to the health of the baby and with this funding, we’ll be able to monitor much more closely the impact of smoking on a baby’s growth and development. It’s really good news for us – it’s a significant enhancement of the support we’re able to offer parents during pregnancy and ultimately improving safety for mothers and their babies.”

Previous funding from a similar initiative last year allowed Southmead’s Maternity Unit to successfully develop the PROMPT (Practical Obstetric Multi-Professional Training) scheme, which trains staff in how to deal with obstetric emergencies. This was rolled out across maternity units and is now associated with some of the lowest child mortality rates in Europe.


Applications for funding were considered by the Department of Health and representatives from the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

The Maternity Safety Innovation fund was announced by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt as part of 10 key actions forming a comprehensive package of measures designed to further improve the safety of maternity care in the NHS.

The 9 other actions were:

1. Launching a consultation to develop a ’safe space’ to allow clinicians to speak openly about things that go wrong without fear that information they disclose may be used against them in court or professional misconduct hearings.

2. The new Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch, modelled on the highly successful Air Accident Investigation Branch, will be up and running from April 2017.

3. Funding the development of a Perinatal Mortality Review Tool to enable standardised recording and investigation of every single stillbirth and neonatal death to ensure that lessons are learned and shared far and wide across the system.

4. Consult on a Rapid Resolution and Redress scheme- a new, voluntary alternative to litigation that gives families in such cases access to support much earlier by establishing the truth more quickly with a rapid and robust investigation that ensures the correct lessons are learned.

5. Publishing CCG ratings to show women and their families how their local health service is performing in maternity care.

6. Appointing two national maternity safety champions, Dr Matthew Jolly and Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent to lead this programme at a national level.

7. Announcing an £8 million Maternity Safety Training fund, administered by Health Education England. The funding will support Trusts across the country to use multi-disciplinary training to improve their maternity safety, with at least £40,000 available for every Trust with maternity services.

8. Launching, with NHS Improvement, a new national Maternal and Neonatal Health Quality Improvement Programme for all trusts. This innovative new programme will provide structured support for maternity and neonatal teams to develop new ideas and turn them into plans for measureable improvements to their services.

9. Launching ‘Our Chance’, a public-facing communications campaign developed in partnership with two key charities, Sands and Best Beginnings.

Posted on Friday 23rd December 2016
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