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NHS Fife has been recognised nationally for its work in improving safety for women in childbirth who may be at risk of a serious haemorrhage, winning the Safe Award at this year’s NHS Scotland event.

Serious haemorrhage in childbirth is extremely distressing for women and their families. Worldwide, it is a leading cause of maternal deaths, with rates increasing.

An innovative initiative led by Consultant Obstetrician, Dr Jennifer Boyd, has seen a 60% reduction in the number of women suffering serious haemorrhages in Fife. There has also been a fall in the number of less serious haemorrhages.

Multidisciplinary teams within the Maternity Unit have worked together to drive improvement locally, with structured processes implemented to enhance risk assessments, early recognition and response, ensuring that effective systems are in place for the management of haemorrhage.

As a result, all women in labour, along with women undergoing an induction or elective Caesarean now have their risk assessed throughout labour with clear accompanying care pathways and management plans in place.

In addition, staff across professional groups have undertaken training as part of the project, enhancing their skills further in the prevention and management of serious haemorrhage. 

Dr Jennifer Boyd said: “This initiative has seen many different teams working together in Fife to reduce the risk of haemorrhage in labour. Whilst numbers of women experiencing severe haemorrhage are small, the impact of such an event can be extremely serious.

“Identifying women at potential risk at an early stage, and ensuring that there is reliable and safe care and management plans in place, has made a significant and positive difference.

“We are continuing to work to reduce risk factors for haemorrhage further, alongside improving antenatal health.”

The team’s work was praised at this summer’s NHS Scotland event in Glasgow, with Dr Boyd accepting the Quality of Care – Safe award from Paul Gray, Chief Executive of NHS Scotland and Director General of Health and Social Care.

The innovative project has also been recognised by the International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare at its annual conference in London.