A new maternity collaborative in the West of England is one of nine projects around the country to be awarded funding from the Health Foundation through its Q Supporting local learning funding programme.

This innovative pilot has been set up to help reduce inequity and improve maternity outcomes for Black women through a collaborative quality improvement (QI) approach.

Inspired by Black Mothers Matter’s vision that one day Black mothers will no longer be disproportionately in danger during pregnancy and the first year after birth, the project has been developed by the West of England AHSN in partnership with Representation Matters and BCohCo.

About the pilot                                                          

As part of a regional collaborative to support psychological safety, peer support and QI coaching, midwives will co-produce and implement small tests of change aimed at improving experiences and outcomes for Black women within maternity systems. This will include:

  • Cultural competency and diversity fluency education for midwives, examining unconscious biases and the role of the individual in perpetuating unsafe systems of care for black women.
  • QI training or coaching to design and implement QI at ground level, supported by the collaborative.
  • Support to develop as QI practitioners and to join the Health Foundation’s Q community.
  • Launching a Q Special Interest Group to maximise learning and wider QI coaching.

Ann Remmers, Maternal and Neonatal Clinical Lead at the West of England AHSN, warmly welcomes the award announcement and says:

“We are so pleased to have this fantastic opportunity to develop this innovative programme to use a QI approach to deliver meaningful, actionable improvements to reduce inequity of outcomes for black women within maternity systems.

“It is a national priority for maternity systems to develop equity plans in order to address inequalities in maternity care and to improve outcomes. This pilot will support maternity services locally and regionally to develop these plans led by Black mothers.”

Founder and Director of Black Mothers Matter, Aisha Davies, adds:

“We are excited to start work on a project that centres black birthers and their experiences.

Form our work, we know that this project being lead by black birthers for black birthers is absolutely vital.

We will be able to harness our experiences as black women alongside voices from our community, and professional knowledge that comes from working within the NHS, to create something that has the potential to contribute to real and meaningful change as week as start to unpick the systemic inequalities faced by black women.

Overall, we believe a new approach to correcting the inequalities that we and our community face during pregnancy is vital, and this project goes a long way to helping that vision.”

Enhance knowledge and tackle bias

Committed to raising awareness and taking action where inequality exists, Bristol-based Representation Matters is one of the partners in the pilot. The organisation’s founder, Aisha Thomas, says:

“Statistics show that as a Black woman you are four times more likely to die in childbirth than a white woman. Therefore we have to confront the uncomfortable truths and challenge the inequalities in the structures that are impacting on Black children and their mothers before they are born.

“We are delighted to partner with Black Mothers Matter on this project to ensure that through this pilot midwives are able to enhance their knowledge, tackle their bias and prejudice, and become more equipped so that we can ensure that all children are able to enter into the world safely, irrespective of the colour of their skin.”

Katie Donovan-Adekanmbi, is an Inclusion and Cohesion Specialist at BCohCo, another key partner involved in the pilot. Katie comments:

“At BCohCo our mission is in our name – Building Cohesive Communities. We are honoured to have been invited to collaborate on such an important initiative, integral to the future of Black women and children’s health and wellbeing.

“Many attitudinal and organisational barriers currently exist within maternity spaces and services. We will be taking a deep dive into the biases faced by women of colour, working together to stimulate the innovation and creativity required to build the change. We are really looking forward to the journey.”

The Q Supporting local learning programme

The Supporting local learning programme aims to encourage a way of working that celebrates innovation and the exchange and spread of insights through strengthening the design of structured learning in the health and care sector. It is coordinated by Q, the Health Foundation’s connected community working together to improve health and care quality across the UK and Ireland.

Applications were requested from Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) who are working to provide opportunities for Q members locally. The standard of applications was exceptionally high, and the successful applications were chosen after careful consideration with Q members and funders from NHS England and NHS Improvement.

Further information

Read more about the Q Supporting local learning programme and the other successful AHSN applications.

Learn more about the West of England AHSN Maternity and Neonatal Safety Improvement Programme

Find out more about Black Mothers Matter

Find out more about Representation Matters

Find out more about BCohCo

Posted on August 26, 2021

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