We’ve opened our Regional Maternal Medicine Centre of Excellence

Our hospital will be home to one of two Maternal Medicine Centres (MMCs) of excellence in the East of England for pregnant women with pre-existing medical conditions.

Creation of the MMCs follows successive maternal death reports which have shown that most of the women dying during or after pregnancy have pre-existing conditions exacerbated by pregnancy rather than due to the pregnancy itself.

Expert review suggests that many of these deaths might have been avoided had the women been referred to a multi-disciplinary team with specific training and experience in medical diseases in pregnancy.

NHS England has an ambitious aim to reduce maternal deaths by 50% by 2025. Towards this goal, they have supported the establishment of a national Maternal Medicine Network with a ‘hub and spoke model’ in each region. With a long-standing established maternal medicine service, Norwich was in an ideal position to provide a regional networked service.

As part of the National Strategy, NHS England funded training of 12 consultant physicians in Obstetric Medicine. Mark Andrews, our established Renal and Obstetric Physician, was the first person to be accepted for this training and currently remains the only person in the country to have completed the program and be awarded the prestigious Diploma in Obstetric Medicine. He will be leading on this service with the existing Maternal Medicine team led by Fran Harlow, Obstetric Consultant.

A virtual Maternal Medicine MDT meeting involving five of the regional District General Hospitals is now well established. We had a local launch at a Grand Round on 28 February with a joint presentation by Fran Harlow and Mark Andrews on ‘Covid in Pregnancy’. The regional launch is on 30 March at the John Innes Conference Centre and is a ‘hybrid meeting’ with more than 120 attendees. Our guest speaker is Professor Cathy Nelson-Piercy who is an internationally renowned obstetric physician instrumental in developing the concept of regional MMCs.

“This is such an exciting development for us,” said Fran Harlow.

“It gives us the opportunity to improve the level of care for women with serious conditions whilst safely ‘sharing care’ for most women with their local hospitals. We will be accepting referrals from local and regional obstetricians, physicians and GPs and from further afield.

“We are very proud that Mark Andrews will be leading on this service with me at the Norwich MMC. And Stephanie Pease, the Divisional Midwifery Director alongside our Chief Nurse, Professor Nancy Fontaine, fully support this exciting collaboration with clinicians and midwives. We are particularly pleased to be appointing a senior Lead Specialist Midwife in Maternal Medicine – this is a novel role which will benefit women hugely.”

“Our pre-pregnancy counselling clinics will provide advice for people planning their pregnancy who have pre-existing medical conditions and on long term medication, so we can support them from the very start of their journey as parents,” added Mark Andrews.

“We will be working closely with specialist medical, surgical, midwifery and anaesthetic colleagues to improve the care of women who become acutely unwell whilst pregnant across our region. Teaching and training together  will be a key role of the Maternal Medicine Centre team.”

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