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A case study exploration of approaches to the delivery of safe, effective and person centred care at two rural community maternity units.

Denham, Sara Helen


Sara Helen Denham


Tracy Humphrey

Ruth Taylor


Background: This research explores whether rural Community Maternity Units (CMUs) contribute to NHS Scotlands Quality Ambitions of safe, effective and person centred care. Currently there is no available recent evidence regarding the quality of this particular model of care in a rural setting. This research makes an important contribution given that most women are encouraged to access local maternity services. Design: An exploratory case study was used with a hermeneutic phenomenological approach to the qualitative data collection and analysis. Quantitiative data were collected and analysed to provide descriptive statistics. Methods: The study was conducted in three phases. In phase one a retrospective medical records review was undertaken to provide quantitative data on the care provided. Phase two was an observation of team meetings, interviews with staff and focus groups with stakeholders in roles aligned to the provision of care at the CMUs. In phase three observations of clinical encounters and interviews with women informed by aide memoire diaries were used. Findings: Maternity services provided by the CMU teams achieved a consistently high standard of safety and effectiveness when measured against national guidelines, standards and other evidence. The stakeholders appreciated the ability within these small teams to provide local, accessible services to women with effective support when required from tertiary services. The women valued person centred and relationship based continuity of antenatal carer, provided by compassionate named midwives, but were disappointed by the discontinuity when complications occurred. Conclusions: The CMUs physical position within the community, smallness of scale and the midwifery teams ethos of normality within a socially based but medically inclusive service facilitated local access for most women to maternity care. This service provision addressed NHS Scotlands Healthcare Quality Strategy of improving health and reducing inequalities for the people of Scotland. The role of the named midwife was key to providing high quality care by maintaining connections across contextual boundaries for women experiencing normal and complicated pregnancies. This research provides an original contribution to the study of rural maternity service provision in Scotland to help inform future sustainability and service development of rural CMUs.


DENHAM, S.H. 2015. A case study exploration of approaches to the delivery of safe, effective and person centred care at two rural community maternity units. Robert Gordon University, PhD thesis.

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Dec 14, 2015
Publicly Available Date Dec 14, 2015
Keywords Quality maternity care; Rural maternity services; Midwife led care; Community maternity unit; Obstetrician led care; Safety; Effectiveness; Person centred care; Case study
Public URL
Award Date Sep 30, 2015


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