Baby Steps

Healthwatch Dorset have published a new report about maternity services in Dorset, called Baby Steps.


Healthwatch Dorset spoke to over 100 local women and their families to find out what it’s really like when you have a baby in Dorset. They organised two events in Boscombe, ran a facebook survey and visited local community groups & childrens centres.

Pictured on the right: Stefania Kirby, winner of the Healthwatch Dorset maternity survey prize draw.

Their findings show the need for better communication, continuity of care and the need to allow new parents the support to make their own choices. The patient champion believes this is even more important when talking about people who may have stronger preferences due to disability, religion, or culture and may need more time to achieve a better understanding.

While much of the feedback about the NHS maternity staff was very positive, there were some people who felt patronised and that they weren’t listened to or respected.

One young mum explained: ‘at times I felt they talked down to me because I was a young mum’.

Quote from the report: ‘I can honestly say that the staff were amazing, and we didn’t feel that we were treated any less favourably than a heterosexual couple’

Other recommendations in the Healthwatch Dorset report include improving antenatal classes, more postnatal check-ups and clearer information about breastfeeding.

A local mum said: ‘I received very mixed advice regarding breastfeeding, every person who came in would say something different.’

Quote from the report: ‘No postnatal support for our babies past 2 weeks from birth. A&E is not a place to take new-borns for help!’

Joyce Guest, Chair of Healthwatch Dorset, explains: “Our project was about listening to people who don’t always have the loudest voice. We’re delighted that Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group has accepted all of our recommendations and we look forward to seeing the actions they take to improve maternity services across Dorset.”

Dorset CCG told us ‘It is so important to our Local Maternity System to provide opportunities for all women and families in shaping their health services and we welcome this Healthwatch Dorset report along with all collective efforts to gather feedback. We are also delighted that our Maternity Voices Representatives (local mums) have helped us. To get involved and have your say contact Dorset Maternity Voices on or facebook @

Healthwatch Dorset works with local people to discover what’s really going on in health and care services across the county. They offer free independent information to help you find your way through the system and use your feedback to influence the way local services are provided.

To find out more you can see the Healthwatch report and Dorset CCG’s response on Healthwatch Dorset’s website 

Contact Healthwatch Dorset by calling 0300 111 0102 (calls cost the same as 01 or 02 numbers). Write to Freepost RTJR-RHUJ-XBLH Healthwatch Dorset, 896 Christchurch Road BH7 6DL (no stamp required)