THE successful implementation of a project which has led to a reduction in stillbirths at Basildon Hospital has been selected as a finalist for a quality in education and training award by NHS Health Education East of England.The GAP Growth Assessment Protocol programme was developed by the Perinatal Institute and has been implemented by around two thirds of hospitals in England. GAP has been so well implemented and embedded at Basildon Hospital, that the maternity unit has been approached by other hospitals wanting to achieve the same.Donna Southam, advanced specialist midwife, who was nominated for the award with colleague Mr Amaju Ikomi, obstetric consultant, explains: “Stillbirths are extremely sad and distressing for families. As they can be caused by many factors we know we will never prevent all stillbirths, however we are always looking for ways to update our practices that can help improve pregnancy outcomes.”We started to implement the GAP programme in 2014, when a look-back of stillbirths over the previous five years identified that many of the babies had growth restriction which had not been identified during pregnancy.”Growth problems in an unborn baby can be caused by many things. The baby may not get enough oxygen and nutrition from the placenta, a congenital abnormality, infection, or the mother’s lifestyle such as alcohol or drug abuse are just some examples.However, antenatal growth problems are not always detected. The GAP programme sets out key things that maternity staff should do and look out for at different stages to help identify when a baby’s growth may be restricted. We can then ensure the mother has the right tests, investigations and care which significantly reduces the risk of a stillbirth.Some key elements to the successful implementation of GAP at Basildon Hospital are: The training of all staff involved in antenatal care Installation of new programmes on all computer systems All ultrasound machines optimised to support the programme All pregnant women offered an additional antenatal visit to ensure that a slow or static growth isn’t missedAs a result of the successful implementation at Basildon the Perinatal Institute has used the hospital’s story as a case scenario of good practice and has been asked to help many units in the beginning stages of roll-out or the units that have not successfully embedded GAP.On being shortlisted for the award, Donna said: “We are pleased that our work has been recognised and hope that being shortlisted for this award will help further disseminate good practice and inspire other teams and organisations.
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