Maternity & Midwifery Forum
Midwifery Sector News

The BL3 Maternity Hub – Breaking Down Barriers to Care in Bolton

The BL3 Maternity Hub in Bolton is a ground breaking new maternity service, set up to ensure that the diverse language and cultural experiences of Bolton’s multi ethnic community are not barriers to safe and comprehensive maternity care.

As has been widely reported there is a significant disparity in pregnancy outcomes for women from ethnic minorities with Black British mothers five times more likely to die in pregnancy or six weeks after childbirth, than White women. Women of mixed ethnicity have three times the risk, and Asian women almost twice the risk. BAME women are also at an increased risk of having a pre-term birth, stillbirth, neonatal death or a baby born with low birth weight.

Addressing the issue head on Bolton NHS Foundation Trust have launched the BL3 Maternity Hub in partnership with Bolton Council of Mosques, and led by Specialist Cultural Liaison Midwife, Benash Nazmeen, providing a base for maternity services in the the Deane area of Bolton bringing care closer to home for those who may have previously faced barriers when accessing maternity care.

This location was chosen because it has one of the highest pregnant populations in Bolton (midwives here are caring for around 800 pregnant women at any one time) and also which has a high percentage of BAME residents. This area has more women that are likely to book with a place of birth that is not the UK, and it is felt that this is one of the areas in Bolton where families are most likely to benefit from support being available in additional languages.

The hub, which opened last month, provides a full day’s antenatal clinic every Tuesday for booked appointments as part of a pregnant women’s regular maternity care. Once lockdown restrictions are eased the hub will host antenatal drop-in sessions, for women to attend and discuss anything non-medical. Typical reasons may be to for someone to inform us they are pregnant or if they have queries around preparation for labour, diet and other wellbeing factors during pregnancy, contraception following birth and so on.

It is planned that the community hub will evolve to bring in more services to provide family support, including healthy families and health visitors.

Discussing the BL3 Hub, Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, CEO, Fiona Noden said:

“We pride ourselves on personalized maternity care and choice. But it became clear to us that we were not always providing equitable care for those who often face various barriers in accessing and receiving care.

The launch of the hub today is the result of the significant steps taken to start to right this inequality. We want to improve the experience of maternity care for all women and families, and improve access to vital antenatal care for our diverse communities which will ultimately lead to better outcomes for families.”

Speaking in an interview with The Bolton News, Benash Nazeem, a driving force behind the creation of the BL3 Hub who has a special interest in addressing health inequities and breaking down barriers to care, said:

“Maternity services are already working in communities, this is more about being able to do a targeted approach in the areas that are concerning us the most when it comes to data and outcomes.

The reality is certain areas we need to actually take community services back into the community, so that they have ownership and more likely to engage and build trust in our services. Hopefully that will be the beginning of change and the way we work.

There is always a fear of going into hospital because often we associate hospitals with people who are sick and ill and often death as well.

So it is always scary going to a hospital, but it is more scary if you are a migrant mother and you are pregnant because in certain countries if you are going to hospital in labour or pregnancy you are going because of something is really wrong and most likely those mothers will go and not come back, that’s terrifying for anyone.

So we really do need to be able to engage and support and overcome any concerns our communities have.”

Benash recently spoke at our Northern Maternity & Midwifery Festival giving a presentation on Working towards cultural safety and allyship – an in-depth exploration with Sheffield Maternity Cooperative Midwife Hannah Thompson.

Earlier this year Benash also spoke at our London Maternity & Midwifery Festival discussing Conversations around race, racism and ’unconscious bias’: moving from rhetoric to changing ourselves, our environment and our practice with Illiyin Morrison, Founder of Mixing up Motherhood; Midwife; Hypnobirthing teacher and Mum.

Paul Rushworth
Maternity & Midwifery Forum