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New maternity and neonatal independent role will support families in Lancashire and South Cumbria

Written by on 30/01/2024

Women and families in Lancashire and South Cumbria can now seek the support of an advocate if something has gone wrong with their maternity or neonatal care.

The maternity and neonatal independent senior advocate will ensure the voices of women and families are listened to and acted upon by their maternity and neonatal care providers when they have experienced an adverse outcome any time during their maternity and neonatal care – recently or some time ago.

An adverse outcome is a serious incident such as:

  • A baby has died before they were born.
  • A baby has died in the days or weeks after they were born.
  • Mum has died.
  • Mum had an unplanned removal of her uterus within six weeks of giving birth.
  • Mum had unplanned care in a critical care unit or an intensive care unit.
  • The baby was diagnosed with a brain injury or a brain injury was suspected.

The advocate can support women, service users and families by helping them understand the maternity and neonatal healthcare system, attending follow up meetings where concerns about maternity or neonatal care are being discussed, and supporting them through investigation and complaints processes.

The advocate will initially serve those who have received care at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals and University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.

Louise Peacock, new maternity and neonatal independent senior advocate for Lancashire and South Cumbria, said: “I am here to help you and your family to be listened to by your maternity and neonatal care teams. You do not need to be sure if there were mistakes or negligence in your or your baby’s care to ask for my support.

“I can attend meetings with you, as well as supporting you through investigation and complaints processes.”

Vanessa Wilson, NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board’s programme director for women and children’s services, said: “Adverse outcomes in maternity care are very rare, but it is vital that families are supported through these difficult times, and that they are listened to by care providers.

“We are pleased to be one of the first areas in the country to have this important bespoke role in our community.”

The role was co-produced by NHS England working alongside maternity and neonatal service users and staff, following actions identified in the Ockenden review into maternity care at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust. The advocate is independent from NHS Trusts and reports to the Integrated Care Board.

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