In this month’s newsletter, we’re taking the opportunity to reflect on the past year whilst also looking forwards to our plans for the year ahead.
As we start 2021, our small team at MUNet is as busy as ever. We remain positive and optimistic for the future of Midwifery Units (MUs) and importantly, wish to thank all our Network for your continued support and belief in our mission and philosophy. We’ve had some amazing discussions and collaborations in 2020 – long may it continue! *
Over the next few months, we are involved in some exciting projects. Our training and education branch (Midwifery Unit Academy) is going strong. We continue our ongoing and innovative collaborations with North West London NHS Maternity Transformation Programme; United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the Association of Ontario Midwives.
Our consultancy and training continue overseas: in the spring we are delighted to be working in collaboration with MUs in Brussels, Prague and with working groups planning to open new Midwifery Units in Spain, France, Belgium and Italy. We also feel very privileged to be supporting the wonderful midwives from the Afghan Midwifery Association to develop plans for the first birth centre in Kabul, Afghanistan.
We expect 2021 to be an extraordinary year for MUNet as we are planning our annual conference for the Autumn: there’s much to celebrate!
Without doubt, 2020 was difficult a year for maternity services. Many women and their families, alongside the midwives, birth workers and maternity systems responsible for caring for them were tested to the limit as Covid shifted priorities within health service organisations, detrimentally limiting available support, choices and rights in childbirth and leaving midwives and doctors exhausted. Whilst the challenges sadly continue for many, much can be learned about what happens when the vital elements of continuity of care, humanised and rights-respecting maternity care, optimal birth support, midwife-led birthing models and personalised care approaches are reduced or removed from maternity services.
At MUNet, we will continue to cast a magnifying glass on these detrimental changes, asking the questions we need to, seeking the solutions we need to, and continuing to be active in our campaign to champion the benefits of Midwifery Units throughout the coming year, in spite of the ongoing pandemic. *
The UK maternity services received another adverse impact in December with the release of the interim Ockendon report. The report is shocking and heart-breaking. Disappointingly, upon release of the report, a destructive narrative emerged surrounding midwife-led care and midwifery units, contrary to the complex and multi-faceted, multi-professional nature surrounding the many failures and safety concerns detailed within the report.
At MUNet, we continue to be steadfast in the robust research surrounding the safety and benefits of well-led MUs and midwife-led care models and anticipate this evidence will be incorporated into key recommendations for improvement of all maternity services.
You can read our response to the report here: https://www.midwiferyunitnetwork.org/position-statement-response-to-the-interimockenden-report/
*We’re always striving to establish innovative ways to engage with our Network and are, delighted to announce our new series of FREE monthly webinars. We aim to share our passions with you and have selected a series of thought-provoking, relevant topics led by some excellent speakers. Please join us! The webinars will run on the last Tuesday of every month, 12:30-14:00 (GMT).
The first scheduled webinar is 26.01.21, titled ‘The Covid-19 pandemic and the benefits of midwifery units: Strategic responses, frontline care and service users’ experiences.’ To register, please follow our Eventbrite page: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/midwiferyunit-network-webinar-midwifery-unit-responses-to-covid-19-tickets-135124363609
We look forward to an exciting year ahead!
The MUNet Director Team (Lucia, Chantelle, Ellen and Richard.)
You can download this newsletter in PDF here: Happy New Year from the Midwifery Unit Network