Regional Programme —

Perinatal Health Equity

Our first regional health equity programme focuses on perinatal health and care.

Newborn baby with parents

Enabling innovative practice to help close the gaps in the health and wellbeing of mothers and families  

The programme has commissioned a user engagement organisation to explore the experience of women and birthing people, who experience inequity of perinatal outcomes

We are focusing our efforts on health equity by identifying and spreading innovative practice that can help to close health equity gaps


Detailed Programme Information

Aiming to improve equity of health and wellbeing outcomes for families during pregnancy, and babies up to one year old.  

The South West AHSN is aiming to improve health equity during the perinatal period, helping reshape elements of perinatal care, improve access and outcomes, and engage with those who are least likely to seek support.

Covering the pregnancy and the first year of life, the perinatal period is key to the future health, development and life-chances of the child, so making a difference in this window carries significant benefits further down the line.

Development of our Perinatal Health Equity Regional Programme commenced in April 2021 and will continue for the next two 1-2 years.

Outcomes the programme is working towards, with a particular focus on those people who experience inequitable outcomes:  

  • Improved access to health and social care services – in first and second trimester for deprived communities  
  • Improved quality of health and social care – for those from ethnic minorities and with cultural and language barriers  
  • A reduction in the modifiable risk factors associated with poorer health – focus on deprived communities in the South West  
  • People are able to make more informed decisions about their care, as they will be provided with “better” information  
  • Improved access to resources for Health Care Practitioners – to facilitate meaningful conversations about the health inequalities patients maybe facing. 
Working with innovators

Below are examples of how the South West AHSN is working with its partners to improve access to, and quality of, perinatal care and increase individual agency when it comes to managing perinatal health.

  • Supporting University of the West of England Associate Professor Laura Goodwin to explore the outcomes for newborns born outside of hospital, in her Births Before Arrival (BBA) study. Read more in our news item.
  • Working with the University of Exeter to examine the impact of evidence-based training of individuals who support women with mild to moderate depressive symptoms/ experiencing perinatal mental health disorders.
  • Supporting Devon-based innovator Health and Care Innovations to develop CONNECT Plus Perinatal, an app to support women in the perinatal pathway and in areas of high deprivation, to better understand, access and engage with health information.
  • Supporting the team behind DadPad ® to develop their award-winning app providing information for new fathers – supporting their participation in early family life. DadPad was one of the winners of the first round of our Health Equity Challenge Fund.
Working with health and care teams

Below are examples of how we are working with local health and care teams to support service provision.

  • Supporting The Lullaby Trust to develop a safer sleep resource material to facilitate supportive conversations between midwives or care professionals and parents or families who find themselves marginalised, or in challenging housing or domestic circumstances.
  • We have evaluated the impact of cultural awareness training courses delivered to 45 midwives across the region. The training sought to highlight healthcare barriers and discrimination faced by minoritised communities whilst providing participants with the tools to understand their own attitudes and values towards race, migration and diversity.  

    Key findings from the follow-up survey issued to participants include: 

    • 100% of respondents having conversations with colleagues about what they had learnt. 
    • 100% of respondents wanting to improve outcomes for Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee (BAMER) communities  

See our case study for more details.

Work with colleagues across our regional Integrated Care Systems, and through user-focused engagement will continue to build a body of insight in this area of work. It will also enable the South West AHSN to support early project development in this area.  

For more information about this programme, please contact Charlotte Burrows.
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