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West Cumbria Priorities
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Maternity Facilities Improvement

This is a priority area because the MVP and the North Cumbria University Hospital Acute Trust often receive negative feedback about the Honister Ward maternity facilities (but lots of praise for the care by staff) this has been the case since maternity was moved to this location in October 2015. There are multiple issues as the ward was never designed for maternity care; it is in tired dated condition and service users tell us it ‘is not fit for purpose’ There are a lack of single rooms, lack of space in 4 bedded bays, ‘magic curtains’ don’t protect privacy and dignity.

West 1
Water Birth

The visiting times for partners are limited and there are no facilities for Dads/ birth supporter to stay. There are significant impacts on induction experiences due to the current layout and accommodation on Honister Ward. There is a long distance between delivery suite and Honister, and between SCBU which is far from ideal when mothers must be moved to delivery suite or wish to visit their baby in SCBU after delivery. Issues with car parking are also identified by some service users. MVP’s should be fully involved from the outset in the planning and design of maternity facilities. MVP needs to work to ensure there is co-design in maternity facilities improvements at West Cumberland.

West 2
West 3
West 4
West 5

Involvement of Fathers/ Partners – Keeping Family Together

It is our MVP priority to put focus on improvements in how fathers (or birth supporter) are being involved in their partner's maternity care, we would like to see a clear strategy for this. Better Births demands more ‘family friendly’ services. Service users expect fuller involvement of father/ partners in maternity care and this is reflected in the experience feedback we receive. 


Maternity facilities should be designed to keep family together not separated. Mothers often say that they would like the support of their partner whilst they are in hospital, before, during and after the birth. A common theme in feedback from West Cumberland Hospital, limited visiting hours, no facilities for partners to stay with Mum antenatally and postnatally, being unable to support Mum during inductions and early labour. Partners/birth supporter should be able to stay with Mum in hospital to provide support, where this is mothers preference, and to be there to share precious early moments of bonding with their baby, as a new family.


Increasing numbers of fathers/ partners are taking paternity leave, so the maternity service needs to consider fathers and partner’s needs. Partners also experience birth and develop postnatal mental health issues. Maternity Voices is working to develop their web site which will have a father/ partner’s page and wish also to start a Dad led MVP Facebook group. Above all, Maternity Voices would like to see a strategy developed for involving partners within maternity care and facilities.


Breastfeeding Support

We hear from women that they do not always get access to sufficient breast-feeding support. Mums want locally available breastfeeding support groups. Mums expect good consistent information and understanding of how to support breastfeeding mothers by all health professionals they meet, including GP’s and Paediatricians. The MVP’s across West North and East Cumbria share this priority. MVP also keen to ensure improvements in information for breastfeeding women returning to work is available, and better support for breastfeeding mothers generally in workplaces. The MVP has worked with service users, local GP Mums, children’s centre staff to identify breastfeeding support issues. This has informed the LMS Better Birth plan, Community Hubs planning and has been fed into the Coproduction work on a refreshed Public Health Strategy for maternity services, this work is ongoing with more workshops planned on breastfeeding Peer Support.


SCBU Support for mother/ support for breastfeeding in SCBU

This area has been a source of some negative feedback previously, with some mothers feeling that they were not getting the hospital care themselves whilst inpatient and they had a baby in SCBU.This isn’t helped by the physical distance between postnatal ward and SCBU.There were also concerns about the support for breastfeeding mothers on SCBU. Concerns have been responded to, over 2017 and 2018 MVP has heard a lot of praise for the SCBU care received in terms of support for Mother and Partner, and breastfeeding support.



Other work on West Cumbria MVP work plan

  •  Development of a shared MVP web site with Carlisle & Eden Cumbria MVP.This should increase the reach of experience feedback

  • Use Survey Monkey Subscription to run surveys and support the Better Births Implementation work, and to capture user driven priorities. Use Survey monkey analytical tools for analysing qualitative feedback we receive to deliver more effective format for MVP feedback reports.

  • Development of promotional leaflets and materials to raise profile of the group

  • Commence regular 15 Step walkabouts to get fresh eyes feedback

  • Continue involvement and user led work birth room environment improvements in development of Alongside MLU facilities at West Cumberland Hospital.

  • Continue involvement in all aspects of co production in relation to Option 1 particularly in relation to pathways and care of women with higher risk babies being advised to give birth in Carlisle.

  • Development of outreach visits working with local partners to harder to reach groups

  • Growing as a local Co production champion and partner for Better Births implementation work

  • Collect Experience feedback on Pelvic Girdle Pain to understand issues

  • As part of WNE Cumbria MVP's play active role inputting into MVP's nationally and regionally,and within the northern clinical network.

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