11 December 2019

Blog by Mandy Townsend

Hello My Name is Mandy, I am a biomedical scientist and I work in Patient Safety at the Innovation Agency. I know that I am truly lucky, working across the whole North West Coast to help frontline services improve. My role gives me a unique view of the NHS services I work with, and to lots of really exciting innovations that are coming through to help us improve NHS care even faster.

A lot of my work is with maternity and neonatal staff across the whole spectrum and I know how busy they are. So this blog will set the background to a new publication which I hope colleagues will find helpful; it is a summary of innovations available in maternity outpatients and is the first of a series of Innovation Insight resources you can download.

In the North West Coast (Lancashire, South Cumbria, Cheshire and Merseyside) our maternity services and neonatal units care for around 35,000 babies a year. This is across 12 maternity units, various midwifery-led units and home births. We have a fixed number of staff. It takes four years to train a midwife and at least seven to train the doctors in our services, while most neonatal nurses undertake additional specialist training after their degrees. So even if we had all the money in the world for more staff, there are just not enough available.

The key challenge I see day to day visiting the maternity units is staff time – people are really, really busy. This puts pressure on them as individuals to provide the care they want to, and means they don’t have the space to consider how to use innovations and new ways of working, both to both help them day to day, and to provide better, safer care – let alone find the time to deliver important new models of care, such as Continuity of Carer.

I am part of the Innovation Agency Exchange assessment panel, which looks carefully at products before they are added to our sharing website. I work closely with colleagues in our ERDF-funded business support team, so I get to see a wide range of innovations, from the exciting and game-changing to the weird and wonderfully niche!

I decided to explore with my Commercial Team colleagues how we could visualise and model the potential impact of these innovations if brought together in a ‘bundle’. Our improvement work is often based around care bundles, where a series of interventions, in the right order, have significantly more impact together than they do alone. It makes sense to try this improvement-led approach to transforming services.

So we sat down and worked through how we might put all of this together in a way that frontline staff might find helpful. We also wanted to help decision-makers ‘see’ the possible future. The tools here on our website are just a starter: we have details on all the innovations mentioned, a draft business case and critical-path analysis so we can help you find the right innovations to transform your service. If you are on our patch and want to be part of this test of change – get in touch!

I hope you find the Innovation Insight: maternity outpatients resource useful, or at least thought provoking. Please get in touch with your feedback and any suggestions, thoughts or other innovations that you think could be added.


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