Experiences of unexpected maternity care

The development of this film was funded by the National Institute for Health Research to be used in The Experience-Led commissioning (ELC) Programme. It is a ‘trigger film’, intended to trigger a discussion between people, families, NHS staff and commissioners about how they can work together to improve health outcomes and people’s experience. The ELC Programme provides commissioning support to health and care commissioners in The NHS and beyond. ELC offers both outsourced commissioning support and an organisational development and coaching programme, including training and accreditation of ELC Practitioners and Facilitators so that commissioners can embed and adopt ELC as ‘the way we commission around here’.

We anticipate that it could also be used as part of an experience-based co-design (EBCD) process. EBCD is a patient-centred quality improvement process, and if you are planning to implement it in your organisation we recommend you use the online EBCD toolkit to guide you. The Point of Care Foundation is also developing a learning programme on EBCD supported by NHS England. If you plan to show this film, we suggest the person facilitating the session use the following introduction to set the scene.

This film was put together from analysis of a national sample of 46 people (35 women and 11 partners) who had experienced emergencies around childbirth. Researchers at the University of Oxford collected interviews with people all round the country, many on video, some audio or written only. They present findings from these interviews on the patient information website www.healthtalkonline.org The interviews are not just about NHS care but also much wider experiences, for example their emotional reactions to the emergency, how their experience has impacted on their own lives and the wider family, their feelings about psychological and physical recovery.

For this project, we looked at the whole interview collection and pulled out specific themes around experiences of services and ‘touchpoints’ where people come into contact with the NHS.

Obviously these are not people from your area and everybody has a different experience, though some patterns do start to emerge from looking at many stories. Some of the things they say you may think aren’t relevant to local services or what happened to you. But our hope is that listening to them will help you reflect on your own memories and spark some ideas for what could be done differently here.

There may be some where people are sad or angry about what’s happened to them, because maternity emergencies are distressing and frightening. You will hear some negative comments, because we can learn a lot from looking at when things went wrong and what could have been done to make that a better experience. Even when people are largely positive about the rest of their care, one damaging bad moment can colour the whole thing. But listen out for positive comments too, where people remember some small act of kindness or a particularly good moment that made all the difference to them.

This study presents independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) under the “Beyond maternal death: Improving the quality of maternity care through national studies of “near-miss” maternal morbidity” programme (Programme Grant RP-PG-0608-10038).

The views expressed in this website are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health. The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the website.

Our thanks to all the women and their partners who took part in the interviews.

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