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National survey results reveal positive experiences of maternity care at Countess of Chester Hospital

Mums who gave birth at the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust last year have praised staff for ‘being there for them if help was needed during labour and birth’, a national maternity survey has revealed.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has today released its annual National Maternity Survey findings for 2023, which show overall that patients at the Countess of Chester Hospital were positive about their maternity care, with improvements in a number of areas compared to the previous year.

The survey, which is open to all eligible organisations in England every year, captures the perspectives of women who gave birth at the Countess of Chester Hospital in February 2023, gaining a crucial snapshot into their experiences of maternity care. Around 20% of respondents were from under-represented groups, which reflects a diverse range of backgrounds, and their input has been welcomed by the Trust to further help improve services.

Families were asked questions about every aspect of their care during each stage of their maternity journey – from their initial contact with a midwife, to the care provided to them at home afterwards.

The results show an improvement in a number of areas compared to the previous year which reflects the dedication the maternity staff show in supporting people through their pregnancy, birth and postnatal journey.

The results show that patient experiences of maternity services at the Countess of Chester Hospital were about the same as most other Trusts overall, however that they were better than most in the following areas:

  • Taking seriously any concerns being raised during antenatal care
  • Staff who treated and examined patients introduced themselves
  • If attention was needed during labour and birth a member of staff was there to help
  • Patients received the information and explanations they needed after the birth.

The top five areas of care where the Trust performed better than the national average were:

  1. Ensuring discharge without delay
  2. Giving patients who have given birth enough information or explanations while in hospital
  3. Ensuring support or advice about feeding a baby for patients
  4. Feeling that midwives and other health professionals gave active support and encouragement about feeding the baby
  5. Enough information was given about any changes to mental health that might happen after having a baby

The Trust has also identified areas for further improvement to transform many aspects of maternity care and work is already underway, with the survey indicating that patients are feeling the benefits already.

Sue Pemberton, Director of Nursing and Quality and Deputy Chief Executive Officer at the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: 

“The results in this survey are an invaluable tool that will help to identify improvements to further shape services to better meet the needs of women and families.

“Whilst our patients are clearly saying that services have improved, we are committed to doing even better to drive these changes forward. A robust action plan is being developed which will be aligned with plans and we will be collaborating with relevant stakeholders – especially the Maternity and Neonatal Voices Partnership – to ensure that service improvements are based on feedback from our patients and their families.

“We are grateful to those families that participated in the survey, who have helped to give a clear idea of how they experience our care, where we are doing well and areas for improvement.”

The Countess of Chester Hospital is already working to improve communication and information sharing with patients, including new personalised care booklets to ensure more tailored care discussions, with patients encouraged to be more actively involved in decisions about their care. The midwifery mental health team has also grown and the programme of education for parents is being reviewed. There is now a greater focus on postnatal support which has led to 10% fewer delayed discharges. The planned maternity experience strategy also includes information on how more patients will be able to see the same staff each time they attend.

The Trust has identified areas for further improvement and these are:

  • Patients feeling that a partner can stay with them for as long as they want
  • Being offered a choice of where to have their baby
  • Mental health information given during the postnatal checkup
  • Help and advice after birth about feeding their baby
  • Patients feeling able to ask questions afterwards about the labour and birth
  • GPs talking enough about physical health during the postnatal checkup.

In Summer 2025 the new Women and Children’s Building will open at the Countess of Chester Hospital, providing a much-improved environment for care and better facilities for patients and their families, which will ensure the highest quality of care for our population.

Click here to view the survey results.

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