Improving the delivery of maternity services


31 / 08 / 2010

The Organisation

Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust provides acute care for a population of around 180,000 primarily in South Somerset North and West Dorset, and parts of Mendip. Each year the trust has over 30,000 patients admitted as inpatients or day cases, more than 90,000 people attending out patients appointments and around 40,000 treated in accident and emergency.  The trust employs over 1,800 staff.

What we did and why

Through reviewing feedback from the Patent Advice and Liaison Service (PALS), it was clear that there were some issues regarding communicating with patients whose first language was not English. Also with the local population becoming increasingly diverse, it was agreed at an equality and diversity focus group to carry out a project to find out the point of views of the patients entering the trust. This was commissioned to take place in the maternity unit as it one of the main areas in which patients enter the trust. The trust wanted to hear about patients’ general experience of using maternity services and whether communication barriers and other cultural factors effected the service provided

The aim of the project was to assess how effectively the trust’s maternity and obstetric services meet the needs of patients from black and minority ethnic (BME) groups.

The projects objectives were to
• engage directly with mothers and families from BME groups so that the trust would be able to improve services
• consider significant cultural factors, health differentials and outcomes across race and ethnic groups so that that the maternity experience would be enhanced and mothers, babies and their families receive the best quality care appropriate to their needs. 

 How we did it

The trust ran a short survey over a three month period to capture data from BME patients that had recently delivered in the maternity unit. The survey was translated into the six most commonly used languages spoken by patients. The translation helped to:
• explain the survey in detail
• encourage participants to share their experience openly
• outline how the feedback would be used to inform how services would be provided in the future.

The survey was given to Black, Minority and Ethnic (BME) Mothers post delivery.  At the end of the three months, no significant result could be found and the sample was not representative so the survey deadline was extended for a further three months.

The results and next steps

The trust received 64 responses, seven of which from mothers whose first language was not English.
The overall findings from the survey were that:
• there were concerns regarding overall communication; it is clear that this would be amplified for patients whose first language is not English.
• the care received by patients was excellent.  Many positive comments received about specific midwives and employees
• six per cent experienced difficulties with communication, there were three main concerns:

  1. general communication regarding the care process from midwives; this was experienced by both English speaking mothers and mothers whose first language is not English
  2. language barriers between patients and senior medical staff whose first language is not English
  3. a general lack of communication with relatives especially regarding basic functions within the ward

The maternity unit has an action plan to improve service delivery. This includes practical ways of communicating with patients to address the points raised by the survey.

Further information and contact information

Tracy Neilson-Jones, Lead for Equality and Diversity

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