Family and friends test for Worthing Hospital maternity services

A family and friends test is being launched for maternity services at Worthing Hospital. Alaina Kirby and her new baby Daisy with midwife Viv Cannons.
A family and friends test is being launched for maternity services at Worthing Hospital. Alaina Kirby and her new baby Daisy with midwife Viv Cannons.

PREGNANT women and new mums are being asked to rate the quality of the maternity care they receive from Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Starting last week, all women having babies at Worthing Hospital or St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester, will be able to have their say in a new initiative aimed at identifying what the trust is doing well and what aspects of maternity care it should focus on improving.

The trust is using the NHS Friends and Family Test to increase the amount of feedback it receives on the experience of patients in its care.

The test is already running for inpatients and accident and emergency, and is now being extended to seek the views of the approximately 6,000 women who choose its maternity services each year.

Dr Cate Bell, the trust’s clinical effectiveness midwife, said: “The women we care for are the best judges of how well we look after them, so it’s really important that they can all tell us what they think quickly and easily.”

Women will be able to give instant feedback on maternity care when they are asked the NHS Friends and Family Test question, ‘How likely are you to recommend our service to friends and family if they needed similar care or treatment?’

The trust is using a free text messaging service to ask that question at four key points during the time women spend in their midwives’ care: at around 36 weeks of pregnancy, after the birth of their baby, after leaving hospital and after being discharged from community care.

They will be asked to select one of six possible responses ranging from ‘extremely likely’ to ‘extremely unlikely’, and have the opportunity to give a brief reason for their rating.

Dr Bell said: “You only need a few seconds to complete the test, so we hope everyone will take part and help us to deliver our services in the way they want us to. When women tell us what they think, we can prioritise the improvements they most want to see.”

Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust already carries out a wide range of real-time patient experience surveys to keep a constant eye on how well people in its care are being looked after, and has made a number of improvements and changes to services as a result.

In maternity, the Delivery Suite at Worthing Hospital was given a £350,000 upgrade at the beginning of 2013 in response to a survey of local mums, who prioritised the installation of a second birthing pool and changes to the layout of the labour ward to give more privacy to women and be more welcoming for their partners.

Dr Bell said: “That was a great example of the women who use our service being able to shape the way it develops, and the Friends and Family Test is an opportunity for evenmore of them to do that.

“We’re committed to providing the services women want, in the way they want them, so please give us your mobile number and let us know what you think when you receive the text.”