Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals Foundation Trust opens centre to increase survival rate among pregnant women managing other conditions

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals Foundation Trust has officially opened its Maternal Medicines Centre with a launch event held at the John Innes Conference Centre.

The event was introduced by Lead Maternal Medicine Obstetrician, Fran Harlow, who described the centre's opening as the realisation of a lifelong ambition.

Delegates also heard from Mark Andrews – the university’s Obstetric Physician – who presented the case study of a pregnant woman with a kidney transplant whose situation required multiple hospitals.

Cathy Nelson-Piercy, the internationally renowned Professor of Obstetric Medicine, was also in attendance. She has been particularly instrumental in the concept of maternal medicine centres and training obstetric physicians.

The creation of regional maternal medicine centre follows successive maternal death reports that show the majority of women dying during or after pregnancy have pre-existing conditions exacerbated by pregnancy rather than due to the pregnancy itself.

Expert reviews suggest that many of these deaths might have been avoided had the women been referred to a multi-disciplinary team with specific training and experience in medical diseases in pregnancy. The Ockenden report, which reviewed the unacceptably high number of maternal and neonatal deaths at Telford and Shrewsbury Trust, has further emphasised these concerns.

NHS England aims to half maternal deaths by 2025. With this goal in mind, they have supported the establishment of a national Maternal Medicine Network with a ‘hub and spoke model’ in each region. With a long-standing and established maternal medicine service, Norwich was in an excellent position to provide a regional networked service.

Mark Andrews enthused: “I am thrilled to be part of a fabulous team taking on the challenge of improving health and outcomes for those planning pregnancy as well as during pregnancy. At NNUH we are fortunate to have colleagues with National and International reputations and huge expertise in dealing with serious issues in pregnancy such as diabetes, heart conditions and blood disorders.”