About the project
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 Black Maternity Matters project has been developed by Health Innovation West of England in partnership with Representation Matters and BCohCo.
Read the evaluation summary of our initial pilot in Bristol here.
In the pilot, which launched in 2022, midwives, maternity healthcare support workers and maternity care assistants from across the West of England came together to form a regional collaborative, providing psychological safety and peer support in which to explore the issues facing Black mothers and what changes can be made in how we provide maternity services and care.
Leading the group of learners, our two midwife champions, Angie Griffiths and Laura Lewinson, provided peer support and leadership to those taking part in the training. They are also key team members of the collaborative in designing and delivering the pilot, providing midwifery clinical content and context to support the design and delivery of the training.
The work of the collaborative was informed by local parent partners who shared their lived experience of maternity services to help shape the training and education, as well as the subsequent improvement projects.
Education and training
Members of the collaborative took part in an innovative six-month anti-racism education and training programme, examining a range of topics including unconscious biases and the role of the individual in perpetuating unsafe systems of care for Black women.
The training programme aimed to take participants on a personal learning journey, developing their understanding of racism and the way this results in risk to the health and wellbeing of women racialised as Black within the health system and beyond. The course contains a focus on Black history within health services and the role of society in perpetuating myths and untruths that impact outcomes and experiences for people racialised as Black in the UK. Centred around three themes of pregnancy and birth – antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal – the learning generates insight, opportunities to explore current practices and identify where change is necessary.
Training is focused on growing competencies and embedding learning, resourcing the participants to take back and share their learning with colleagues in their own maternity units.
Participants were supported to develop as quality improvement (QI) practitioners. Using the learning and insights they gained and with ongoing support from the wider collaborative, they received training and coaching to help them design and implement QI projects in their own hospitals, running small tests of change aimed at improving experiences and outcomes for Black women.
Participants were offered the opportunity to join the Health Foundation’s Q community, and we are developing Q Special Interest Group to maximise learning and wider QI coaching.
The pilot project
The Black Maternity Matters pilot was one of nine projects around the country to be awarded funding from the Health Foundation through its Q Supporting local learning funding programme.
Between May and December 2022, 14 midwives and maternity support workers from North Bristol NHS Trust and University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust took part in the pilot project. They participated in six facilitated sessions with two specialist trainers from the independent sector. Three anti-racism training sessions were delivered face-to-face, alongside three online ‘book club’ sessions.
Informed by the evaluation of the pilot phase, the Black Maternity Matters collaborative will deliver two further programmes of the Black Maternity Matters training in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire, and in Gloucestershire, as well as another programme in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.
We are recruiting up to 60 participants (maternity and neonatal staff, as well as perinatal mental health teams and health visitors) to participate in a six-month programme of anti-racist education and quality improvement starting in May 2023.
In addition, we are providing a further six months of support to the original pilot cohort in Bristol.
Health Innovation West of England will carry out a qualitative and quantitative evaluation of the approach to identify both enablers and barriers in using QI to improve equity.
We will share learning regionally and nationally to inform the potential scale-up of this programme and to influence similar initiatives aimed at reducing inequity for other populations within and outside the maternity system.
If you are interested in taking part in the next phase of Black Maternity Matters training, please email us to find out more: firstname.lastname@example.org.