Hospital Staff - Women's Services

Hospital Staff - Women's Services

 The Healthy Child Programme starts in pregnancy. Midwives are the primary health professionals likely to be working with and supporting women and their families throughout pregnancy. However, other health professionals – including maternity support workers, health visitors and, where applicable, specialist key workers – may also be directly engaged in providing support. The close relationship they foster with their clients provides an opportunity to observe attitudes towards the developing baby and identify potential problems during pregnancy, birth and the child’s early care.

It is estimated that a third of domestic violence starts or escalates during pregnancy. All health professionals working with pregnant women should understand that vulnerable women are more likely to delay seeking care, to fail to attend antenatal clinics regularly and to deny and minimise abuse. It is important to provide a supportive and enabling environment, where the issue of abuse is raised with every pregnant woman, with the provision of information about specialist agencies, thus enabling disclosure should a woman so choose (Maternity Section Children’s NSF, 2004). The Department of Health issued revised guidance, Responding to Domestic Violence: a Handbook for Health Professionals, in 2006.

If a woman requires referral to Children’s Social Care the community midwife will make a referral at about 16-18 weeks gestation this ensures that there is an ongoing pregnancy. Depending on the issues of concern a Strategy Meeting may be convened or the case may go straight to Case Conference. Pre-birth Assessments may be required and if the conference decides on a Child Protection Plan, a Birth Plan will be agreed either at the Conference or at the Core Group.

If the woman is a vulnerable young person herself a referral may be made earlier than 16 weeks often via the Teenage Pregnancy Team/Midwife.  Additionally the substance misuse midwife may also need to make urgent referrals at any stage of pregnancy.

Within the hospital, midwives may make a referral to Children’s Social Care, this is normally following discussion with the community midwife, safeguarding midwife or co-ordinator on for the shift.

The safeguarding children midwife ensures that any Plans/Conference minutes are placed in the red pocket file within the medical notes. She also is available during normal working hours for advice and liaison often contacted by Children’s Social Care, midwives or health visitors regarding unborn babies and newly delivered babies.

There is a Safeguarding Forum held on the first Friday of the month to discuss current and ongoing cases. A midwife representative from each community base in Newcastle and a senior social worker from the Initial Response Service attend the meeting. This forum also provides supervision and multi-agency decision making on individual cases.

Case Reviews are held if an issue needs discussion and a change of practice implemented.

For babies born from out of area plans are placed in the notes. Discussion takes place with the safeguarding midwife. Appropriate plans are placed in the medical notes and liaison with the social worker and allocated community midwife takes place.