NNUH launches Regional Maternal Medicine Centre of Excellence for pregnant women with pre-existing medical conditions


The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals Foundation Trust has officially opened its Maternal Medicines Centre with a launch event held at the John Innes Conference Centre.

More than 120 guests attended the event either in person or virtually to hear from speakers including Mark Andrews our Obstetric Physician who presented a case study of a pregnant woman with a kidney transplant that resulted in an Obstetric Medicine MDT involving multiple hospital centres. The event was also attended by Cathy Nelson-Piercy, internationally renowned Professor of Obstetric Medicine, who has been instrumental in the concept of Maternal Medicine Centres and training Obstetric Physicians.

The event, introduced by our Lead Maternal Medicine Obstetrician Fran Harlow, was praised by the delegates for its combination of local information and expertise.

Fran Harlow, said: “It was a lifelong ambition to have a Maternal Medicine Centre at NNUH. Mark Andrews and I also gave a joint presentation on ‘Covid in Pregnancy’ at an NNUH Grand Round. Our next meeting on the 12 May is in primary care with guest speakers on pre-pregnancy counselling and contraception. Stephanie Pease – Divisional Midwifery Director at the NNUH said: “We are delighted to announce that we have recently appointed a Lead Specialist Midwife in Maternal Medicine Lianne Elliott, who will be a great addition to the team.

Creation of the Regional Maternal Medicine Centres follows successive maternal death reports that show the majority of 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. The Ockenden report, which reviewed the unacceptably high number of maternal and neonatal deaths at Telford and Shrewsbury Trust, has further emphasised these concerns.

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. Our established Renal Physician, Dr Mark Andrews 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 Obstetric Consultant Miss Fran Harlow.

Mark Andrews added: “I am thrilled to be part of a fabulous team taking on the challenge of improving health and outcomes for those planning pregnancy as well as during pregnancy. At NNUH we are fortunate to have colleagues with National and International reputations and huge expertise in dealing with serious issues in pregnancy such as diabetes, heart conditions and blood disorders. We were always going to be well placed to provide a regional service and I hope I can bring some extra skills to the team and provide a “helicopter view” when managing complex patients.”


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