New role set to help save babies’ lives in Birmingham

29th October, 2019

A new role that could help save babies lives by supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged pregnant women has been launched in Birmingham.

Link support workers have been introduced by Birmingham and Solihull United Maternity and Newborn Partnership (BUMP) to help women to access and use maternity services provided by Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust and University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.

Traditionally, women who live in areas of high deprivation and non-English speaking women are at a much greater risk of complications during pregnancy and birth.  It is believed that this is because many do not have access to the right information in a format they can understand.

Link support workers encourage women to access their care early,  help them to understand the wide range of choices that are available to them within the Birmingham and Solihull maternity system,  and are on hand to attend clinics and provide essential information and support for these women.   This support extends through labour, birth and beyond, helping women to feel informed and safe.   And as they see the same link support worker, the woman benefits from the advantages of continuity of carer.

Lola is one of six link support workers, she works alongside community midwifery teams at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital. She said: “This role bridges the gap for some women between them and their maternity care team. Women feel they have someone on their side to help them understand the information and to help them feel less alone when they go to appointments and classes. One lady rang me because she hadn’t felt her baby move and her mother in law told her to leave it for a few days. I was able to give her the correct advice and she came into the hospital to get checked out and her baby was ok.”

Carmel McCalmont, Director of Midwifery for BUMP said: “Lola’s story demonstrates the importance of providing women with the information they need in a format that works for them. They are an important link, helping women who might find it difficult for a wide range of reasons to use and understand maternity services across our Local Maternity System.  They follow the patient, not the provider so women benefit from continuity of carer.”

Link support workers are based within Birmingham Women’s Hospital, Heartlands Hospital, a Children’s Centre and a charity.   They are part of a trial which was made possible thanks to a successful bid to NHS England Regional Maternity Workforce Transformation fund.