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Photograph of Rhona Mulvihill in a circle. Wording reads: Rhona Mulvihill is the new Maternity and Neonatal Independent Senior Advocate for West Yorkshire and Harrogate helping women, service users and families to be listened to and heard following an adverse outcome any time during pregnancy and birth.

A new role being piloted in West Yorkshire and Harrogate is supporting women and families who have experienced an adverse outcome during maternity and neonatal care. The introduction of the maternity and neonatal independent senior advocate role follows the actions identified in the Ockenden review (December 2020) into maternity care at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust.

Whether an adverse outcome happened recently or a while ago, independent senior advocates for maternity and newborn care make sure that the voices of women and families are listened to, heard, and addressed by their care providers. An adverse outcome is defined as

  • a baby has died after 24 weeks of pregnancy and before birth (stillborn)
  • a baby has died within 28 days of birth
  • the mother has died within a year of giving birth
  • the mother had an unexpected or unplanned removal of her womb (hysterectomy) within six weeks of giving birth
  • the mother had an unexpected time of care in the critical or intensive care unit
  • the baby was diagnosed with a brain injury or a brain injury was suspected.

Maternity and neonatal Independent senior advocates can support women, birthing  people and families by providing advocacy, helping them understand the maternity and neonatal healthcare system procedures, attending follow up meetings where concerns about maternity or neonatal care are being discussed, and supporting them through investigation and complaints processes.

Rhona Mulvihill will support people and communities in Bradford District and Craven, Calderdale, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds, and Wakefield District in the area covered by the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Local Maternity and Neonatal System and the NHS West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board (WY ICB).

Rhona Mulvihill, Maternity and Neonatal Independent Senior Advocate for West Yorkshire and Harrogate said: “I am always sorry to hear when people and families have had a distressing experience during their maternity or neonatal care.  I also understand how hard it is to share those experiences.  However, I am here to support and advocate for local people and families that have experienced an adverse outcome across West Yorkshire and Harrogate. For those that choose to work with me I will do all I can to ensure you are listened to, heard and acted upon by care providers. You can self-refer or ask a member of staff from your hospital trust, your GP or any health and care professional to refer you. This service is free – there is no charge for any support given.”

 

Beverley Geary, Director of Nursing at the NHS West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board said:  ““While adverse outcomes in maternity care, such as brain injury or death for a mother or child, are very rare, it is vital that families are supported through these extremely difficult times, and that they are listened to and feel heard by their maternity and neonatal care providers.

“This new pilot led by NHS England will provide an advocate who can help families navigate the processes and signpost them to the best support available, we are pleased to be one of the first systems in the country to have this important bespoke role in our community.”

This important role was co-produced by NHS England working alongside maternity and neonatal staff and people and communities.

A maternity and neonatal independent senior advocate is independent from NHS Trusts, and reports to Integrated Care Boards, who are responsible for the provision of all care in your area.

It’s helpful to note that if you need support from Rhona, you do not need to be sure if there were mistakes or negligence in the mother or baby’s care to ask for support, there is no charge for any support given, and interpreters can be made available if you need one.

You can contact Rhona by calling, emailing, or writing to her. You can also ask a member of staff from your hospital Trust, GP or Integrated Care Board to get Rhona to contact you. Find out more and the various ways of getting in touch at: www.wypartnership.co.uk/senioradvocate