Smoking in pregnancy – the journey continues

Julie presents on smoking in pregnancy at South Tees

Earlier this year, I spoke about the launch of an initiative aimed at tackling smoking during pregnancy, as part of the Yale System Leadership group, in partnership with the Local Maternity Service (LMS).

As we edge towards the end of the year, I thought it appropriate to offer an update on progress to date, and ambitions beyond the project.

On 20 September we ‘officially’ launched our plans to our system-wide colleagues – Chief Executives and midwifery teams, urging them to sign our pledge. We were overwhelmed by the attendance at the event, and the contribution by so many to such an important matter in the room.

As our Chief Executives from across our Integrated Care System stepped up to sign our board, I felt that we were really coming together. In unity there is strength. To know that our neighbouring health care organisations and other providers within the wider system were ready to become a collective voice for this ambition highlighted where our North East and North Cumbria collective can really impact change.

Our region often tops the wrong type of tables for health inequalities and issues surrounding deprivation. If my colleagues and I can work in our roles to impact change, our collective voices across all organisations are the vehicle to do so.

Today, I had the privilege of presenting to midwifery colleagues at South Tees NHS Foundation Trust, alongside Becca Scott from the Local Maternity System and Ann Workman from Stockton Borough Council. As the team there fed back to me the positive changes they are witnessing in Teesside mothers, I was exceptionally proud to be part of a wider, more connected community than at any other point before.

“In unity there is strength. To know that our neighbouring health care organisations and other providers within the wider system were ready to become a collective voice for this ambition highlighted where our North East and North Cumbria collective can really impact change.”

Staff told me that the new script we are using to talk to mothers about their addiction is empowering – daunting at first, but ultimately empowering. Our South Tees team told me that once you have delivered it the first time – it gets easier, much like a lot of things that we experience in life and throughout our careers.

So for me, this ambitious plan to change the direction of health inequalities for the North East and North Cumbria in such an innovative and impactful way is much the same. This journey has been daunting – we have met challenges, we will continue to do so – but as a collective, a joined up collaborative system we can give our region a brighter future. We just had to deliver the first initiative which heralds our dedication, but there is so much more to do and so much more to impact.

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