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DMU academic's work will help improve care of new mums and babies

A De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) academic has helped to compile the world’s biggest audit of maternity services across Britain.

Dr Tina Harris, of DMU’s Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, is part of the team who published the National Maternity and Perinatal Audit (NMPA), which identifies areas of good practice and opportunities to improve the care of women and babies.

newborn baby

While the vast majority of women have a safe birth, and despite on-going improvements in the safety of maternity services, findings show that variation exists in a number of clinical processes and outcomes in maternity care. Some of the variation found will be due to differences in data quality, completeness and the risk profile of women being seen in different units.

This data will enable women, clinicians, commissioners and policy makers to evaluate care given locally and nationally and use it to drive further improvements in the quality of maternity services.

Dr Harris, who is Associate Professor for Research Students and a midwife, said: “To get information on care and outcomes of 700,000 births in one place is amazing. It has been an extremely successful collaboration and we hope it will encourage trusts/boards and clinicians to reflect upon the data and come up with ways of sharing best practice.”

The audit, the largest of its kind in the world, presents a comprehensive overview of the state of maternity care across Britain. It has been developed using electronic data which midwives, doctors, other healthcare professionals and informatics departments enter as part of their everyday practice.

This audit makes it possible for the first time to compare the care that maternity units provide to women across England, Scotland and Wales. The publication of an interactive website makes accessing these results easy.

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The report clearly identifies priorities for improvement, where unexplained variation in outcomes for women and babies exists. It also identifies good practice, and detects gaps in policy and guidelines. Increasing pressures on the service from societal and behavioural factors are also highlighted, which have implications for outcomes, policy and service provision.

The audit was commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) as part of the National Clinical Audit Programme, the NMPA is the largest quality improvement programme for maternity and neonatal services in the world.  It is a landmark collaboration between the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

The report includes data from 149 of 155 NHS trusts and boards that provide maternity care in England, Scotland and Wales and are based on electronic records of 696,738 births between April 2015 and March 2016.

Posted on Wednesday 3rd January 2018

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