Dumfries & Galloway Health & Social Care

‘Best Start’ set to modernise maternity and neonatal services

A MODERNISATION of maternity and neonatal care services is set to take place in Dumfries and Galloway over the next five years.

The Best Start initiative now underway in the region reflects a national strategy for Scotland which aims to place the needs and wishes of all mothers and their babies at the heart of service redesign.

Teams on the ground comprising a range of disciplines are currently working together to roll out the best start vision within NHS Dumfries and Galloway’s Maternity and Neonatal Care.

Linda Williamson is General Manager for Women, Children’s and Sexual Health Services in the region, and she said: “Best Start represents the most significant programme of modernisation within maternity and neonatal care for many years.

“At the heart of the approach is ensuring that the needs and wishes of mothers are prioritised when shaping these services.

“Work has taken place nationally to develop this vision for maternity and neonatal care, and we are at the stage now of working with communities across the region, our staff and partners to ensure that this vision is implemented successfully.”

The vision shapes maternal and newborn care over the next five years. It includes: 

  • All mothers and babies are offered a truly family-centred, safe and compassionate approach to their care, recognising their own unique circumstances and preferences
  • Fathers and partners and other family members are actively encouraged and supported to become an integral part of all aspects of maternal and newborn care
  • Women experience real continuity of care and carer, across the whole maternity journey, with vulnerable families being offered any additional tailored support they may require.

Karen King is the Head of Midwifery/Consultant Midwife, and she said: “Best Start sets the direction for the modernisation of our models of care over the next five years.

“Having a baby is the most special of periods in a family’s life and we recognise that our care is very important, not only to ensure high quality and safe care but also to provide trusted relationships between families and health care providers to ensure our care is person-centred and supportive of people’s individual needs.

“It is also our aim that staff are skilled and well supported to deliver a high quality service every time and they work in a culture with everyone’s contribution is equally valued.”


WORK is advancing on the creation of a facility delivering ante and post-natal care services in the community of Wigtownshire.

As part of the Best Start programme, these services will be delivered through the new Women, Children’s Sexual Health Services Hub in Stranraer, which will be a dedicated, standalone facility.

Head of Midwifery Karen King said: “Currently, maternity and neonatal services for the west of the region are provided out of a range of different locations.

“This not only means that pregnant women, new mothers and their children are required to travel between facilities, but that our clinical teams are not working together to the best advantage of the community and having to share facilities which are dedicated to other purposes.

“The Women, Children’s and Sexual Health Services Hub in Stranraer will be a new, dedicated, standalone facility. It will bring together all these services and the staff who deliver them, and improve the experiences of those accessing these services.

“This facility is being developed in line with the vision of Best Start, and will help achieve its objective of ensuring we meet the needs and wishes of mothers and their children.”

Work is progressing to entirely repurpose the Darataigh building on Dalrymple Street to create a facility which will accommodate women, children’s and sexual health services.

NHS staff from a rage of departments including Estates, Information Technology and Infection Control have been working with colleagues from Women, Children and Sexual Health Services to develop the building, and ensure that it will meet all requirements to the highest possible standards.

Karen King said: “Great progress is being made in the work to develop this new, dedicated facility. We hope it will be ready to open by Spring 2020, and are energised and excited about the improved quality of services which we will be able to offer as we implement the vision of Best Start.

“We’re keen to involve the community as the Hub takes shape, and will be seeking to promote the full range of services which we will be able to offer.”


 A SCANNING service for pregnant women is being brought to Wigtownshire as part of the Best Start initiative.

Head of Midwifery Karen King said: “Currently, pregnant women are required to travel to Dumfries for scans, which we fully appreciate can be an unwelcome journey – particularly for someone in their condition.

“So we are delighted that we are now going to be able to provide this service and deliver this care much closer to where they live.

“Our newly appointed midwife sonographer will initially be based in Galloway Community Hospital, but with plans for this service to be integrated with others out of the Women, Children’s and Sexual Health Services Hub which is rapidly taking form.

From tomorrow, highly experienced midwife Joanne Porter will be providing the scanning service in weekly, Wednesday clinics.

Karen said: “These clinics will include all scans, from early dating to detailed growth scans. This will negate the need to go to Dumfries for most pregnancy scans, providing a more complete local service for women in Wigtownshire.

“This will be done in conjunction with twice monthly locally held consultant clinics.”

Joanne Porter has served in a midwifery role for almost 30 years, and is now a fully qualified sonographer.

She said: “I am local to Stranraer having lived most of my life in Stranraer and Glenluce. I have worked as a midwife in Galloway Community Hospital since 1994, and still love my job. I feel that the extended role of midwife sonographer is very special.

“As women currently have to travel to Dumfries to give birth to their babies unless they are having a home birth, this will cut down on most of the travel and bring a really important service to Wigtownshire.”