‘You’d do hours of research to buy a car, so why not when having a baby?’

Tamsin Ward has become a birth plan ambassador for the Care Quality Commission

BY FERNANDO MONCADA RIVERA
toby@slpmedia.co.uk

A mum who has suffered two miscarriages has been at the forefront of a campaign to make pregnant women research their birth options.

Tamsin Ward, 32, from Lewisham, has become ambassador for a campaign aimed at making soon-to-be parents aware of their rights to choose where their baby is born. She is now an ambassador for a campaign by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) the regulator for health and social care in England.

The Your Birth Plan campaign aims to provide information for expectant parents about their options regarding their child’s birthplace.

She gave birth to a baby girl, Carey, on September 21 at Lewisham Hospital. Carey was Tamsin’s third pregnancy after the first two ended in miscarriages. And when, after carrying Tamsin for 19 weeks she realised it was a high risk pregnancy, she knew she needed help and praised Lewisham Hospital’s response. She said: “They have a programme whereby you have your own designated midwife.

“I’ve experienced a couple of operations, we’ve had more scans, more appointments. At one point we were having weekly check-ups.

“Along the way we’ve just been blown away by how caring and amazing everybody has been to us.”

A survey of 1,000 women by the CQC showed 40 per cent did not know or did not feel they had a choice in their birth hospital, and over half (57 per cent) said that they spent less than an hour choosing one. Tamsin said: “It’s funny because if you were going to buy a car, you would probably spend hours researching it.

“So why would you not do that for one of the most important things in your life, which is having a baby?”

The CQC rates hospitals on a scale from inadequate to outstanding, and publishes the ratings in a report. Heidi Smoult, deputy chief inspector at the Care Quality Commission, said: “Our inspection reports provide information about many aspects of maternity care within each hospital.

“We inspect asking four key questions: Is the service safe? Is it effective? Are the staff caring and responsive to people’s needs, and is the service well led?

“We urge all prospective parents to do their research to help ensure they are fully informed of all the options available to them and have the best possible birth experience”

Tamsin said: “I would definitely advise friends to have a look at the CQC reports now I’m aware of them.

“I think that there is so much information out there and when you become pregnant it can become quite overwhelming.

“So I think having proper research to look at is really good.”

Research commissioned by the CQC found that 40 per cent of families either weren’t aware or didn’t feel they had a choice about their birth hospital. The CQC is responsible for all hospitals, including private hospitals, GP practices, dentists, care homes and home care in England.

Its maternity service inspections include all services for women that relate to pregnancy, including ante- and post-natal services, labour wards, birth centres or units and theatres providing obstetric related surgery.

For information on the CQC’s campaign or to share your experience visit http://www.cqc.org.uk/yourbirthplan

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