Maternity Transformation Programme: thoughts from RCM CEO Gill Walton

By Gill Walton on 22 December 2017 Maternity Services Better Births Initiative

As we approach the end of 2017 we can reflect on progress made to date in implementing Better Births while looking ahead to the challenges for delivering the maternity transformation in 2018.

As CEO I am keen to continue to support our leaders and our members to implement this policy. I do however recognise that maternity transformation is challenging and complex, and is only achievable if it is supported with the right level of resources.

During the last year, we have engaged extensively with the Maternity Transformation Programme (MTP). The RCM is represented on the MTP Programme Board, the Stakeholder Council and all but one of the nine workstreams that are charged with delivering the main recommendations that were first set out in Better Births. We have also maintained close contact with the Early Adopters Programme and the Choice and Personalisation Pioneers, in order to understand and support how new ways of working and models of care are being piloted and tested. It is particularly important that we learn from the Early Adopters and Choice Pioneers and to consider all maternity services can use this learning to offer women more choice, improve their experience of pregnancy and birth, deliver safer and high quality care and improve outcomes for women and babies. I also want our members to feel cared for and supported as MTP impacts on the way in which services are organised and delivered.

Continuity of carer represents one of the most important, and challenging elements of maternity transformation, which will require careful planning and piloting. So in addition to representing the midwifery profession on the MTP boards and workstreams, the RCM has commissioned three pieces of work on  continuity of carer  on behalf of NHS England, comprising:

  • An i-learn module;
  • A continuity of carer  monitoring Framework; and
  • Modelling work being undertaken by Birthrate Plus® in order to assess the workforce requirements needed to implement continuity of carer.

These projects are due to be completed and published early in 2018.

The RCM is also developing a practical, interactive tool to aid midwives initiate and develop conversations about what CoC means to us. This is also due to be published in 2018.

The RCM recognises that ongoing dialogue between those charged with overseeing the MTP programme and maternity services staff is an essential prerequisite of successful transformation. I am therefore pleased to report that  MTP is an agenda item on each Heads of Midwifery /Director of Midwifery and leaders forum; this has stimulated  some very good discussions with key speakers from the workstreams, early adopters and choice pioneers. I know that HOMS and leaders have found this invaluable.

The RCM’s MTP leads have also spoken at a number of conferences across England and in other parts of the UK getting the key messages of Better Births  out to midwives, MSW’s and the wider  maternity services. MTP leads have contributed to many media discussions, press articles and features in the RCM Midwives Magazine throughout 2017. For example, the RCM’s Director for England Jacque Gerrard penned this recent opinion piece in the Clinical Services Journal.

There are many other examples of RCM contributions to MTP during 2017, including: helping NHS Digital establish an expert reference group of 40 midwives to advise on harnessing digital technology; and contributing to task and finish groups, consultations and discussions on improving choice and personalisation for women.

Above all else, whilst the RCM has tried to be a supportive partner for MTP we have not shied away from raising challenging issues or having difficult conversations about those aspects of maternity transformation that members are raising with us.

Next year

The next year is likely to be one of more engagement and hard work for the RCM as the process of maternity transformation intensifies? As well as remaining involved at a strategic level as your CEO, I am very keen that we now engage with MTP at a more local level.  As Local Maternity Systems publish their plans (due in early 2018) for the local transformation of services, the RCM will be engaging with LMSs via our regional heads and officers We want to continue to support you in how you can engage with maternity transformation, by keeping you updated on developments and producing guidance and other materials. We will need you to support us in our efforts by your engagement in all things related to Better Births and Maternity Transformation that are happening in your local maternity services. In particular, it would be great if you could let us know how your service is taking forward MTP and sharing with us some examples of good practice.

Please write to me at [email protected] or the RCM’s MTP lead Jacque Gerrard [email protected]

I look forward to hearing from you.