New independent chair appointed to strengthen quality improvement in maternity services

NHS Birmingham and Solihull Integrated Care Board has announced the appointment Bernadette Hanney into the role of independent chair of the Birmingham and Solihull maternity services quality oversight and improvement group.

This new leadership role, reporting to the chair of the Birmingham and Solihull local maternity and neonatal system (LMNS) Lisa Stalley-Green, will be pivotal in driving forward quality improvements through listening to service users and working with clinicians and staff within the LMNS, ensuring that the voices of women and families are central to decision making.

The LMNS is a partnership between maternity providers, supporting NHS Trusts and the voluntary sector. As one of the key initiatives within the Birmingham and Solihull Integrated Care System, the focus of this partnership is to ensure that every baby has the best possible start to life.

Bernadette, who is due to start the role in November, joins NHS Birmingham and Solihull from the Care Quality Commission, where she has most recently worked as Head of Hospital Inspection. She originally trained as a nurse and spent much of her clinical career working in gynaecology where she developed a passion for women’s health and equality.

From there she moved into general management and clinical governance, which spurred her to move in regulation where she has spent the last 21 years.

Bernadette said “The common theme between these roles, and I like to think for anyone working in the care professions, is to ensure the provision of safe, effective and compassionate care.”

The immediate priority for Bernadette’s new role will be to lead listening into action and an engagement plan around accessibility – proactively reaching out to women and families to understand how services could be made more equitable for people in Birmingham and Solihull.

Bernadette adds: “We want to provide personalised care but in order to do that we need to create two-way communication with families.

“There’s already some great work going on such as the maternity link workers who speak different languages and are able to advocate for women and guide them through their perinatal journey.

“Our maternity voices partnership is also being strengthened to ensure this is representative of the communities we serve so that we can make the most of it.”

As a former nurse, Bernadette is also very clear that in order to make change possible, more needs to be done to support the workforce so she will also be working with colleagues across the LMNS to focus on leadership and culture, recruitment and retention as well as development and succession planning.

Lisa Stalley-Green said: “We are delighted to have Bernadette join our team – with a 40 year career in nursing, management and regulation she brings a wealth of experience in that will be a huge asset to the quality improvement agenda.

“This role aims to ensure that quality is the golden thread running through the LMNS. Importantly, as independent chair, Bernadette is able bring objectivity to the leadership team, questioning the status quo for the benefit of the communities we serve.”

Bernadette said: “I believe that staff working in maternity services want to do their best for the families they work with and it’s devastating for all involved when there isn’t a good outcome.

“We only get one chance to get it right, and we need to make change happen if we’re going to get it right for every family, every time.”

“I am really looking forward to working with people who are equally passionate about providing the very best care to families across Birmingham and Solihull. I am not a midwife so I value the knowledge and experience colleagues in maternity services can bring to this vital improvement work.

“Success to me is seeing a service that listens to the families it serves and works with them to deliver safe, compassionate care.”

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