The BBC's 'Call The Midwives' returned to its East London roots - with its stars joined by a midwife from The Royal London Hospital.
Ali Herron met actors Linda Bassett and Leonie Elliott - (Nurse Phyllis Crane and Nurse Lucille Anderson) - on Friday 1st March to launch the trial of Baby Lifeline’s new standardised home delivery bag for community midwives.
Barts Health NHS Trust, which counts The Royal London Hospital and the Barkantine Birth Centre among its five maternity centres in east London, is one of six NHS Trusts set to trial the kit from next month (April).
The pilot follows a national survey by mother and baby charity Baby Lifeline which showed there is little national standardisation in equipment carried by midwives to community births - with 40 per cent surveyed saying items they carried didn’t meet all their needs.
Baby Lifeline says this is a far cry from the familiar scenes in ‘Call the Midwife’ showing the Nonnatus House nurses packing their identical bags for a day of check-ups and deliveries around 1960s Poplar, and midwives want to change this situation.
From April, forty-nine bags will be trialled by frontline midwives in six UK trusts*. Together with an expert working group, Baby Midwives have developed a rucksack style bag with adjustable straps and optional wheels, which has been compartmentalised and colour coded to make it easier to identify equipment quickly.
The bag includes everything from scissors to cut the cord, to a hat and towels to dry and warm the new born baby, as well as equipment for emergencies that, although rare, can occur. Midwives will also trial a set of processes aimed at keeping the equipment and supplies up to date.
Ali Herron, Associate Director of Midwifery and Gynaecology at The Royal London Hospital said: "It was a pleasure to discuss with the actors the difference that we hope the bags will make to midwives across the country. It's important we support our midwives to do their very best. We take great pride in the success of our Tower Hamlets home birth team, who after just one year have already helped more than 37 women to give birth in the comfort of their own home."
Kirstie Savege, midwife who is leading the pilot for Barts Health, added: “It is vital that as midwives we do all we can to help women have a happy and healthy birth. We know that home birth works; labour is often shorter and there is less risk of infection. We welcome Baby Lifeline's initiative and look forward to contributing to improving the safety of women and babies everywhere."
Baby Lifeline Founder and Chief Executive Judy Ledger explained: "Baby Lifeline believes that every woman who gives birth in the community, no matter where in the country she is, should have access to the same essential equipment through her midwife. Equally, every midwife should have access to the equipment needed to deliver safe and effective care. This is what we are working to achieve through this project."
At the launch, Baby Lifeline Ambassador and Ormer Mayfair’s celebrity chef Shaun Rankin hosted and prepared lunch for the stars and the midwives leading the trial.