Royal Surrey launches new pain relief service for birthing mothers | News

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Royal Surrey launches new pain relief service for birthing mothers

The way pain relief is delivered in Royal Surrey’s maternity unit has changed, giving more control and greater benefits to women in labour.

The maternity team are excited to have moved away from the traditional method of midwives manually administering a patient’s anaesthetic into an epidural catheter, and have launched new pumps that automate the process.

Historically, epidurals would require an hourly top-up of anaesthetic by a midwife, who would need to leave the room to have the new dose authorised, during which time a mother’s pain levels may gradually increase.

These new pumps administer a regular shot and give control to the patient, allowing them to top up their own anaesthetic dose every 20 minutes (up to a safe amount), for continuous pain relief.

Although pumps have been used for some time, it is only recently that studies have shown that epidural pumps delivering an intermittent dose of anaesthetic, known as Programmed Intermittent Epidural Bolus (PIEB), provide more effective pain relief.

Other patient benefits include a reduction in midwife absence, a reduced risk of infection and loss of motor function, a shortened second stage of labour and a smoother transition into theatre if needed.

There is also a significant cost saving for the Trust, as the pumps use less anaesthetic solution overall.

Royal Surrey’s Lead Obstetric Anaesthetist, Dr Stefan Milewczyk, who put forward the business case for the pumps, has described the introduction of this new technology as a real team effort.

He would like to thank the maternity, IT, pharmacy and education teams at Royal Surrey for their support in the launch of this valuable new service.

Stefan said:

“We put forward a business case for these pumps a couple of years ago, and it is very exciting to now see them in action. In my role I strive to make things better for the women we support and I am always looking at ways to improve and enhance the patient experience. This new service is allowing us to do just that.”

Tanya Ashton, Matron for Postnatal and Community started the project alongside Dr Stefan Milewczyk, and Katy Lucas, Matron for Delivery Suite and Homebirth Services then took over the project. Both have played a crucial role in the launch of the pumps. Tanya has been instrumental in writing and delivering the policy for their use and Katy has ensured the smooth implementation of their use alongside the pharmacists, IT support and the maternity continuous professional development team.

Katy said:

“Previously it would take the time of two midwives to get the keys, sign out the epidural mixture and then also administer the epidural mix, sometimes every hour for a birthing person’s epidural. These new pumps offer multiple benefits as they save our staff time, meaning they have more time with the family they are supporting, empower the birthing person to have control over their chosen pain relief method, ensure a smooth transfer to theatre if required and crucially reduce any gaps in pain management for the birthing person. The pumps provide empowerment and excellent pain relief. We also encourage those giving birth to remain mobile and move around even if only in the bed. Changing positions empowers them to use the tools they are taught by the education team.”

Pictured: Katy Lucas, Matron for Delivery Suite and Homebirth Services (left) Stefan Milewczyk, Lead Obstetric Anaesthetist, (right)

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