Double celebration for Better Births Pioneer in Waltham Forest

Double celebration for Better Births Pioneer in Waltham Forest
Victoria Frederick and her baby son Hendrix

Victoria Frederick and her baby son Hendrix


A pioneering midwifery service that supports women in Waltham Forest has marked two major milestones – its first anniversary and its 100th birth.

NHS Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group (WF CCG) commissioned the independent midwifery provider Neighbourhood Midwives to increase choice and the continuity of care that women receive when they are expecting a baby.

Since starting work in the borough in November last year, the team of midwives has delivered 100 babies, 53 of them at home.

The service offers women the chance to have the same midwife supporting them throughout their pregnancy, the birth of their baby and the first few weeks following the birth.

Speaking at the service’s first birthday celebrations at Vestry House Museum in Walthamstow Village this week (14 November), Baroness Julia Cumberlege, Chair of the national maternity Better Births review, part of the NHS Five Year Forward View, said: “I think people should learn from Neighbourhood Midwives.

“To me this success comes as no surprise. Continuity makes for better births. We know that with continuity [of carer] we can prevent 24 per cent of premature births and in doing so reduce the number of stillbirths.”

Neighbourhood Midwives is a social enterprise and is employee-owned. It was commissioned by the CCG to run a groundbreaking two-year pilot after Waltham Forest, along with neighbouring CCGs in Newham and Tower Hamlets, were together selected as one of seven ‘Maternity Choice and Personalisation Pioneers’ by NHS England.

The first birthday celebrations coincided with a rather special arrival for the Neighbourhood Midwives team.

Annie Francis, Chief Executive Officer of Neighbourhood Midwives, said: “Just last night [13 November], the 100th baby was born. Our midwives Jill [Hutchings] and Veronica (Wells) were on hand to support the mother who had opted for a homebirth.”

Neighbourhood Midwives work as part of the east London local maternity system.

Terry Huff, Chief Officer for Waltham Forest CCG, said the introduction of the service had been a “constructive disruption’ to the way maternity services were delivered.

He said: “Everybody has had to change their approach to fit in with us. It’s good that we have got this off the ground and great to get so much good feedback.

“The success speaks for itself, with the number of homebirths we’ve seen in the first year.”

Joining the birthday celebrations at Vestry House Museum were several very special guests – some of the parents and babies who benefited from Neighbourhood Midwives’ care.

Among them was Victoria Frederick and baby Hendrix. Victoria contacted Neighbourhood Midwives via their Facebook page after hearing about a friend’s experience of their care.

Mrs Frederick said: “It’s been wonderful. I’ve always had a holistic view of healthcare. I can’t praise them enough. The midwives felt like part of the family from very early on.

“They made me feel really relaxed about everything and I think that has just been passed on to him (Hendrix) as he is such a chilled baby.”