Trust chosen to offer specialist critical care training to midwives across the South East

Date: 11 July 2023

Maternity Enhanced Care Unit Course

More than £75,000 has been awarded to Medway NHS Foundation Trust to facilitate specialist training for midwives so they can provide critical care support to pregnant people who become unwell during pregnancy, labour and the postnatal period while on a maternity unit.

Health Education England (HEE), now a part of NHS England (NHSE), awarded the funding to the Trust after it was selected from a number of NHS organisations across the country to deliver the Maternity Enhanced Care Unit course (MECU). It aims to upskill midwives working in hospitals and birthing centres so they can continue to care for pregnant people who become severely unwell with medical, surgical or obstetric problems during pregnancy. Without this training, they would be cared for in a critical care unit.  

The funding will be used to train up to 200 midwives from across the South East with Medway NHS Foundation Trust hosting and delivering the programme.

Developed and led by Consultant Anaesthetist Dr Priya Krishnan with the support of the Trust’s maternity department leadership team, the one-day course was launched in 2015 and initially delivered annually to midwives at Medway Maritime Hospital. But now, due to its reputation, it attracts midwives nationally.

Thanks to the HEE funding, the course, which is delivered by Dr Krishnan, Consultant Obstetrician Dr Robin Edwards and Midwifery MECU Lead Helen Money, will be available to a wider number of midwives in the South East region. The funding has paid for essential simulation equipment and supported resourcing additional teaching tools to maximise shared learning.

Dr Krishnan said: “By upskilling midwives in providing enhanced care for our sickest maternity patients irrespective of location, critical care support can be bought to the patient in familiar surroundings and with familiar staff while keeping parents and babies together.

“Midwives who attend the course become confident in using critical care skills to closely monitor pregnant people with the added support of the multi-disciplinary team. By introducing the MECU course at Medway, we have also improved team-working amongst the various specialities on the labour ward so that everyone is aware of the sickest maternity users.”

Money raised through the course fees over the years have enabled the Trust to refurbish its Maternity Enhanced Care Unit at Medway Maritime Hospital by changing the bathroom into a shower room so people don’t have to step into a bath, put up new blinds and buy cots that allow unwell parents to hold their babies easier. It has also helped to pay for books and reading material so MECU midwives can keep up-to-date on current practices for caring for people who become acutely ill.

Dr Krishnan added: “We have been offering MECU training since 2015 and have a confident, core team of in-house midwives here at Medway NHS Foundation Trust and now we have the opportunity to increase training numbers regionally. We teach between 15 and 20 midwives per course using a senior team of anaesthetists, obstetricians and midwives. We look forward to supporting other units in the region with the skills that we have given our teams here at Medway.”

The MECU course fits in with NHS England’s three year delivery plan for maternity and neonatal services which sets out how the NHS will make maternity and neonatal care safer, more personalised, and more equitable for women, babies, and families.

Jayne Black, Chief Executive of Medway NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It is a real privilege and honour that the Trust has been chosen to deliver this vital training.

“A huge thank you to all of our consultant anaesthetists and consultant obstetricians who help to deliver the course. It’s down to them that the course has been a huge success and subsequently why HEE selected us to deliver it to midwives in the south east region.”

Dates for the Maternity Enhanced Care Unit course are:

  • Monday 18 September 2023
  • Monday 27 November 2023
  • Monday 5 February 2024
  • Monday 20 May 2024

Midwives who work for NHS organisations in the south east region can register for the course by visiting – www.medicaleducation.medway.nhs.uk

  • Summary:

    More than £75,000 has been awarded to Medway NHS Foundation Trust to facilitate specialist training for midwives so they can provide critical care support to pregnant people who become unwell during pregnancy, labour and the postnatal period while on a maternity unit.