I chose to use the Iolanthe Trust Midwives Award 2023 on a funded multi-professional team training day for 20 members of the MDT at Lancashire Women and Newborn Centre, where I work as a band 7 midwifery leader on consultant-led Central Birth Suite.
Following my work in public health I have gained a growing interest in the health outcome disparities in maternity which are endured by societally marginalisted groups. From these academic networks, I discovered the charity Birthrights and found their work to be so important within the world of birth.
I thought the Birthrights training day would be an invaluable resource for the team due to its insights in legal frameworks, human rights in health and their prominent research report ‘Systemic Racism, not broken bodies’. Not only are these topics of great interest to me, I felt that the wider team would benefit from this specialised and accredited training by teachers who have in-depth knowledge of law and medical systems.
The maternity unit which I work in is very progressive and so I felt it was fitting for team members to be able to access training which is also progressive and challenges typical healthcare norms. Without the opportunity to come together as a team to discuss the system, its issues and the population we serve, psychological safety cannot be preserved within the unit.
We care for a large and diverse demographic in terms of minoritisation and socioeconomics. The training was wholly suited to understand the challenges health care professionals face when working in this area of obstetrics as we were able to examine legalities, ethical dilemmas and how human rights play into every dimension of care we deliver or omit. Our trainers Saras Arulampalam and Simon Mehigan were fantastic and brought so much expertise to the training day from complimentary viewpoints but varied career experiences.
Examining the barriers to rights-based care during the training day was a highlight for me as I was able to consider how my own practice could limit rights based maternity care.
The opportunity to have safe conversations together was so valuable to myself and the team. Additionally having the ability to discuss those who live with multiple disadvantages helped to consider why we see patterns of poor compliance, non-attendence of appointments and mistrust of care providers.
Having the chance to reflect on these phenomena means that the team will be able to deliver more rights-based and individualised care. This has a potential benefit on individual service users and the public health system as a whole, by building positive relationships between patients and clinicians.
This work has motivated me to begin a larger innovation project at Lancashire Women and Newborn Centre. I have been successfully enrolled into a funded Florence Nightingale Foundation Green Healthcare Leadership programme where I have designed and hope to implement an anti-racism training pilot for team members.
Additionally, since winning the Iolanthe Award I have begun a Professional Doctorate in Health with the hope of bringing a cultural safety intervention to consultant-led labour ward.
The award has also given me the confidence to continue to peruse professional opportunities which improve outcomes for women and birthing people. Reducing health inequalities will always be a challenge in healthcare settings, but having the backing of a renowned national charity, has reassured me in the knowledge that I am not alone in this work.
The enthusiasm of all of the study day participants has provided further motivation to improve the service we provide to the local childbearing population.
Feedback from the training day included 100% of participants feeling that their knowledge and understanding of how human rights applies to maternity care improved after the session.
100% of participants also felt competent and confident in human rights in maternity care at the end of the training session.
Comments from participants included:
‘This training would be beneficial for all health care professionals to receive.’
‘It would be ideal that this study day is made mandatory.’
‘This training has been brilliant for those of us who have received it but it would help for everyone to receive it.’