Pre-alerts Introduced At Maternity And Obstetric Units To Help With Time-Critical Emergencies

Emergency maternity care in the North West has been improved thanks to partnership working between North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) and the region’s maternity and obstetric teams.

A dedicated emergency phone line has been installed in each obstetric unit across the North West for 999 emergency call handlers to connect directly with the midwife/doctor on duty, informing them that a critically ill patient is on the way.

Generally, emergency phones are used in A&E departments to pre-alert the hospital that an emergency patient is on the way in. A recent scoping exercise identified the need for a similar process to ensure maternity staff are prepared for the arrival of an ambulance to the maternity unit with a pregnancy-related emergency.

As part of the protocol, the NWAS emergency call handler will ring the dedicated number, which will be answered by a midwife or doctor, and provide the details and estimated time of arrival. This allows the hospital to prepare to receive the patient who may need emergency treatment.

NWAS Consultant Midwife Stephanie Heys said: “Any delay in accessing specialised maternity care could be a safety risk for mothers and babies who require emergency care. Pre-alerts are an example of good communication between the ambulance service and receiving maternity units, and helps ensure everyone is prepared for the arrival of a patient who might be in need of emergency care. Working closely with regional maternity and obstetric teams to introduce this protocol will further improve the care our emergency maternity and obstetric patients receive as they transition from ambulance to the maternity unit.”

Catherine Owens, Director of Midwifery/Associate Chief Nurse at Warrington and Halton Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Having the designated emergency NWAS phone and protocol on our Birthing Suite has improved communication between NWAS, Maternity, Obstetric, and Neonatal Teams and enables early notification of women requiring emergency care on the Birth Suite.

“Early notification of a woman enables the team to prioritise the woman’s clinical needs and ensures the right team members have been called to Birth Suite and are ready to provide the emergency care required.  In an emergency every minute counts and having the designated NWAS emergency phone and protocol is a collaborative quality improvement measure to maximise a woman’s experience and improve outcomes and clinical effectiveness.”

Written by: Karen Fitzhenry

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