08 Mar 2023
International Women’s Day 2023
For International Women’s Day 2023, Health Innovation Manchester shines a spotlight on Dr Kylie Watson, a consultant midwife at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT). We hear from Kylie how through her role she is working to improve equity and equality for women across Greater Manchester.
Exploring disparities in maternity experiences and outcomes in Greater Manchester
“We really wanted to understand the experiences of our women that were being cared for through our services.”
I am consultant midwife, and I have worked at MFT since 2012. I have a 50:50 role in terms of clinical leadership and research, and equity and equality form a core part of both of my roles.
There is a significant disparity in maternity outcomes for women who are from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups. Whilst this has been explored at a national level, we wanted to understand the experiences of our woman that were being cared for through our services.
We received funding from the Manchester Academic Health Science Centre (MAHSC), part of Health Innovation Manchester, to look at the maternity experiences of woman living in Central Manchester postcodes, particularly those living in areas of social deprivation and/or from ethnically diverse backgrounds. Nearly 400 women completed an online anonymous survey, of which just under 70% were from ethnic minority groups. We then interviewed 19 women in depth about their maternity experiences, focusing on what was good about their care and why.
It’s been an interesting and worthwhile piece of work to do, and we’re in the process of pulling together draft papers for publication. We will develop action plans from some of the findings from that work, including resources for midwives and other healthcare professionals to refer to.
How can we improve the delivery of equitable care in our region?
“No community is ‘hard to reach’, it’s just that we’re not speaking to the right people.”
We’re moving in the right direction, but we’ve only just scratched the surface. We need to focus more on cultural safety and awareness, and we’ll be working with staff across the board this year to increase awareness of cultural considerations and translation services when providing clinical care.
Understanding health literacy is essential. We need to make sure that the information we give to people is of the right level, so people understand what we’re trying to communicate with them about some of the decisions that they might be having to make.
We also need to understand the wider data of our Greater Manchester communities, including social determinants of health that impact on health outcomes. We need to get out into our communities, speak to them and understand what is important to them. No community is ‘hard to reach’, it’s just that we’re not speaking to the right people. I will be working with our Local Maternity and Neonatal System this year to support implementation of an Equity and Equality action plan that has been developed to reduced inequity and improve outcomes for those most in need.
Pursuing a clinical academic career in Greater Manchester
“If you are interested in pursuing research opportunities, be inquisitive – there’s loads of support out there.”
I have spent a large part of my career working on labour wards as a midwifery coordinator. I loved the adrenaline, managing lots of situations all at the same time, supporting staff, and being with women in labour. However, I became more and more interested in pursuing the research part of my career. In 2015 I had the opportunity to apply for an NIHR Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship, and in 2019 I completed a PhD investigating the use of wireless foetal heart rate monitoring during labour.
At MFT there’s a very clear pathway for consultant nurses and midwives with academic qualifications. A clinical academic career is really respected here, which hasn’t always been the case for nurses, midwifes and allied health professionals, and I feel Greater Manchester is really leading the way in supporting these research opportunities and career pathways.
The funding from MAHSC for this research, and the support throughout my career at MFT to pursue research alongside my clinical role has been invaluable. If you are interested in pursuing research opportunities, be inquisitive – there’s loads of support out there and people are very happy to help and guide you.
Further resources and information
MAHSC brings together our world leading academic and NHS partners to drive health research. For further information on MAHSC and funding opportunities, visit here.
The Manchester Clinical Academic Centre aims to develop MFT research leaders and an international reputation for clinical excellence in research. For more information on MCAC and research resources visit here.