Annual Review Highlights Award-Winning Work

Award winning projects to improve the safety of women and their new born babies were showcased at today’s annual review of NHS Forth Valley’s performance. Before chairing the public meeting, Health Secretary Alex Neil toured the Women and Children’s unit at Forth Valley Royal Hospital to see first hand the innovative work being carried out by staff.

The Health Secretary was briefed on a new ‘buddying system’ designed to improve the monitoring of babies during labour by providing ‘a fresh pair of eyes’ when a baby’s heartbeat is being recorded electronically. Print-outs from the machine are now checked by two nursing staff. The merits of this work were recognised when it won joint first prize in the Excellence in Supervision category at the British Journal of Midwifery Practice Awards 2012.

He also heard about the work of NHS Forth Valley Sister Midwife Debbie Forbes, a finalist in this year’s Scottish Health Awards, who has developed new ways of regulating a drug called Syntocinon, frequently used to speed up labour. Her methods, which are now attracting significant interest, have the potential to improve safety in maternity units across the country.

In the Neonatal Unit the ongoing vigilance of staff has ensured that no baby in the Unit has contracted a Staph Aureus bacteraemia (a type of blood-borne infection) for more than 1,280 days, far exceeding the nation al target of 300 days. This work was highlighted at a national conference in Montreal earlier this year, attended by Senior Sister Anne Vallance and Sister Midwife Cathy Brown.

They also produced a poster presentation on efforts used in the neonatal unit to relieve pain in newborn babies. This includes putting a drop of breast milk or sucrose on the tip of a baby’s tongue two minutes before a potentially painful procedure such as inserting a cannula. The sweet taste causes the release of natural endorphins which help the baby relax. The effect is further enhanced by the sucking process.

Gillian Morton, NHS Forth Valley’s Associate Director of Nursing/Head of Midwifery, said:

 The hard work of our staff has resulted in real improvements for local mums and their babies. It has also resulted in a number of major awards and achievements. These include the UNICEF Baby Friendly Award for our work to support breastfeeding and ensure best practice standards are in place, and we have also been shortlisted for the Royal College of Midwifery Annual Midwifery Awards 2014 in the Maternity Service of the Year category.”

Health Secretary Alex Neil said

 I was delighted to visit the Women and Children’s unit at the Forth Valley Royal Hospital, to meet some new mothers and see the range of treatments that are on offer to support them and their precious new babies.

“The unit is a fantastic example of how staff can make a big difference to the experience that mums and families have at what is a big time in anyone’s life. With more choice, a better environment for women to give birth and a continuous focus on safety the team here have already seen some wonderful results.

“I am sure that no award can be as rewarding as the safe delivery of a healthy baby, but I am glad that the achievements of this unit were noticed by the recent Scottish Health Awards.”

During his visit the Health Secretary also toured the ante/ post-natal ward (Ward 8) to hear about the care provided to new mums who may have to stay in hospital longer after giving birth for health reasons or observation. These include women who have had a Caesarean section, a forceps delivery or high blood pressure. He also spent time speaking to local staff, new mums and the parents of babies currently being cared for in the Neonatal Unit.