In the shoes of Victoria Morgan… | Reflecting on #MatExp and the impact it is having

MBRRACE-UK perinatal mortality report There is a lot of excitement in the #MatExp camp at the moment. So what’s new there? 😉

There was a wonderful workshop last week at Princess Royal Hospital. The room was packed and the #MatExp Twitter feed was on fire.  Laura James, Chair of the Bromley MSLC wrote about it here.

Also there is anticipation. It will be the first time we have taken part in a global online NHS Transformathon – not least because it IS the first of its kind. Rather niftily, my last blog ‘explaining’ #MatExp was picked up by the Edge and included in their transformation special edition, so have a browse through that – you will find lots of inspiring stories and practical ideas.

We are standing by our beds, so to speak, waiting for further instructions about the Transformathon and hoping that we can get ourselves sorted with the right technology as no-one wants a repeat of Flo and I ad-libbing wildly and singing, as we ended up doing at NHS Expo! Please join lots of sessions but particularly the opening session 4.00-5-30pm 27th January, hosted by Helen Bevan and Alison Cameron – we don’t know the detail but we know it will include a lot of fab stuff. Including NHS Fab Stuff.

So it feels very timely that people are reflecting and sharing their thoughts.

In August 2015, I wrote about the #MatExp journey so far ‘What a year! My ‘take’ on #MatExp: building a change platform – by accident!’ and asked everyone why they were getting involved with #MatExp and what difference it had made.

Victoria Morgan, founder of Every Birth a Safe Birth, got in touch to say that she’d learnt quite a lot from the blog, so I challenged her to write about it!

What I’ve learnt from #MatExp

IMG_3691Yes, I am the sort of person with a target on my head! As I’m rushing to a meeting it is usually me people stop in the street to ask for directions…or, in this case, write a blog! There were so many elements of Gill’s and the #MatExp journey that echoed my own that I thought I had to take up her challenge to put it down in writing.

So, here are the 11 things that #MatExp has taught me.

1. Do the crazy thing you really want to do
When Gill created Whose Shoes in 2008 – she gave up her job, jumped ship with a crazy notion, loads of passion, no funding or realistic plan.

At the beginning of 2015, I found myself going to job interviews for jobs that didn’t really fire me up. As I asked ‘what do I want to do?’ I remembered my work in the NHS when I’d developed a passion for improving maternity services.

One effective technique I’d developed was facilitating multi-disciplinary panels to review serious incidents and agree action to improve the quality of services. It was one of the reasons that led to my appointment as Head of Quality & Safety across four London boroughs.

My boss, Prathiba, a public health consultant opened my eyes to the importance of public health analytical techniques in improving clinical quality. From serious incident data I calculated mortality rates for a local hospital trust – this was real time data and it communicated powerfully.

At that time, I discovered the work of a cardiac clinical network which had reduced mortality rates by 24% for one type of surgery and wondered if a similar approach could be adopted by maternity services.

2. Collect stories
My passion for improving maternity services also came from the stories of friends who had been left with significant morbidities after giving birth but this wasn’t getting onto the commissioning agenda – we were too stretched.

Recognising the pressures on staff which means it is difficult it is to make time for improvement work and my strengths of organising, analysis and facilitation, I thought why not set up a business to support maternity services improve quality? So in June 2015, I set up Every Birth a Safe Birth to organise and facilitate maternity clinical networks.

3. Turn problems into opportunities

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Gill turned the problem of getting refreshments out of the NHS into an opportunity – starting the #MatExp bake-off where participants bake and share cakes, a lovely personal touch that is now a key part of the package.

I faced two major problems in setting up a maternity quality improvement business: I’m neither a clinician nor a parent – so without that experience how could I possibly facilitate maternity clinical networks?

However these problems have become strengths; it’s meant I’ve had to:
• consult widely – I’ve found a range of wonderful clinicians and parents who have helped refine my ideas; and
• genuinely facilitate – improvement ideas have to come from the participants.

4. Use social media
A year ago I didn’t have a clue what Twitter was about; now, I regularly Tweet what I hope is mainly useful stuff from @VictoriaRM6. Twitter is a great way to:
• connect with like minded people;
• keep up to date with developments; and
• discover events and training opportunities such as the MBRRACE-UK perinatal mortality report and the London Maternity Strategic Clinical Network (SCN).

5. Take one small step and see where it takes you
Flo - small pilot#MatExp began as ‘one small pilot’ and is now a national grassroots movement. Whilst Every Birth a Safe Birth is very much at the embryonic stage, I’ve found that as I step out things can snowball beyond what I originally envisaged.

Take that day in June, when I attended the MBRRACE-UK perinatal report launch and the London Maternity SCN. I felt prompted to write a blog reflecting on the events and how grassroots clinical networks could help.

It felt risky asking Sheena Byrom if she’d like my blog for her
‘what the national maternity review team should know’ series (kicked off in style by Gill and Florence). To my surprise, she not only posted my blog but also asked if her daughter Anna Byrom (@ACBmidwife), editor of The Practising Midwife, could get in touch, as she might like to publish it. Anna and Laura Yeates were understanding editors showing this rookie feature writer the ropes with much patience.

I’ve since written a review of the year for the journal: 2015 proved to be a big year for maternity with Kirkup, the national maternity review, the MBRRACE-UK reports and, of course, #MatExp.

5. Keep networking!
Networking can feel like a dirty word; really it’s about being friendly and watching out for opportunities where you can help others or ask for help.

Having drawn on the work of the London Maternity Strategic Clinical Network for blog and journal article, when I heard the Network needed people to join their Outcomes Group it seemed an opportunity to get to know people involved in the work and help out.

Of course my membership of the group has turned out to be more helpful to me than I have to it! Guess who was there as I turned up at NHS London HQ for my first meeting with some degree of trepidation…#FabObs Flo, who gave me a warm welcome!

6. Iron sharpens iron
15 10 16 RCOG Womens Patient Safety DayWhen Flo heard that I was presenting a poster at the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists Womens’ Health Patient Safety Day, she decided that #MatExp needed to get in on the act and got a stand – the #MatExp Bazaar – at the event. The way Flo looks at what others are up, then thinks of a better way of expressing it in her context and just does it is impressive.

Flo and Leigh - RCOG safety dayHaving a friendly face at the conference was very welcome and it also gave me the opportunity to meet the lovely Leigh Kendall for real after getting to know her and Hugo’s story through her amazing blogs (if there are any publishers out there, this is a book crying out to be published).

7. Do stuff outside your comfort zone
Talking to Flo beforehand, she confirmed my guess that these events aren’t usually too interactive and that she hoped to shake things up a bit with the #MatExp Bazaar.

Spurred on by the interactive nature of the #MatExp stand, I drew up some comment forms and asked those taking an interest in my poster “would you like to give me your thoughts on what you’ve read?” Not quite Flo and Leigh’s ebullient style; nevertheless delegates kindly gave me their insights.

8. Get supporters and support others
Gill invests time in supporting people on social media – building links across her networks has proved very rewarding.

Clare (@Clare_desilva), who I’ve known for some time, agreed to be the parent involvement advisor on the Every Birth a Safe Birth advisory board; she stresses the importance of fathers/birth partners – they have an overview of what is going on. Her husband is a management consultant by day, so he had some great insights into how well the midwifery and obstetrics teams worked together (or didn’t).

9. Whose Shoes? rocks!
Having followed the Whose Shoes? workshops remotely on social media, I was keen to try the board game for myself. When the National Maternity Review used it at their road shows, I was there! Somehow the informality (fun) and ‘no right answers’ approach of the board game allows the creative bit of our brains to engage, sparking deeper conversations.

10. Serendipity
Meeting key people at just the right time to help think through her ideas has been a key part of Gill’s journey and also mine. Lucy November (@lucynov) and Ceri Durham (@Homebirth_TH) have provided useful feedback on the clinical quality outcome measures for the Every Birth a Safe Birth clinical networks.

11. Use others’ expertise
Without a clinical or public health background, the 12 (and counting) clinical quality outcomes measures for the Every Birth a Safe Birth clinical networks have had to be drawn from the work of nationally/internationally recognised bodies.

The excellent, free to access, work of MBRRACE-UK and the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists’s Green-top Guidelines, have not only ensured that the data definitions are correct but also provided national and international benchmarks for the outcome charts.

FINAL Logo MediumIf you’d like to get in touch with Victoria or find out more, you can do this via her website or or follow her on Twitter @VictoriaRM6.

About Gill Phillips - Whose Shoes?

Passionate about personalisation in health & social care. Creator of Whose Shoes? - an imaginative approach to helping people work together to improve lives.
This entry was posted in Blogs, Guest blog, health, maternity, personalisation, safeguarding, well-being and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to In the shoes of Victoria Morgan… | Reflecting on #MatExp and the impact it is having

  1. Pingback: #MatExp – Women’s Voices | Heart Mummy Musings

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