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Who frames public discourse about healthcare?


Staff, Students, Academics

An analysis of media reporting on the closure of freestanding midwifery units in England.

The Centre for Maternal and Child Health Research welcomes Professor Christine McCourt from the Division of Midwifery & Radiography at School of Health Sciences, City, University of London. The UK Department of Health has had a policy of choice of birth setting since 2005, to include hospital, home or midwife units. Midwife units – often known as Birthcentres – are settings for childbirth that are managed by midwives, usually with a focus on physiological birth in a homely environment (McCourt et al. 2016). Freestanding Midwife Units (FMUs) are geographically separate from a hospital with an obstetric unit, while Alongside Midwifery Units (AMUs) are adjacent or on the same hospital site as an obstetrically managed unit (OU). Following large scale research, by a collaboration involving the Centre for Maternal & Child Health Research at City, NICE guidelines now recommend that professionals offer MU care as a positive choice for women. However, our current project shows that numbers of women giving birth in MUs has undergone only limited change and, the number of FMUs remains limited and a number have closed or are said to be ‘under threat (Walsh et al 2017).

We undertook an analysis of media reporting on the closure of these units, to contribute to understanding of drivers for take-up and sustainability or otherwise by analysing the content and discourse of relevant media around midwifery unit closures.  A systematic search was conducted using the Nexus databases to identify all media reports directly relating to midwifery units in England that had been closed between 2007 and 2016, Data were collated on a site by site basis and relevant data on content and discourse were extracted using a template designed by the research team to address our key objectives. Thematic analysis was then conducted, using the template as a framework. The findings will be presented with a focus on how this analysis illuminated the role of societal and cultural attitudes towards risk and safety relating to place of birth, and ongoing debates about centralisation of healthcare and loss of ‘community’.

About the speaker

Christine is Professor of Maternal and Child Health, School of Health Sciences, where she is joint research lead in the Centre for Research in Maternal and Child Health and Senior Tutor for Research. She teaches at Undergraduate, Masters and Doctoral level as well as conducting and supporting a range of research projects. Her key interests are in maternity and women's health, with particular interests in institutions and service change and reform, on women's experiences of childbirth and maternity care and in the culture and organisation of maternity care. She has worked over a number of years on applying anthropological theory and methodology to studying 'western' healthcare and she is also the managing editor of the international journal on applied anthropology, Anthropology in Action.

A light lunch with refreshments will be provided from 12:45.

For further information regarding the seminar contact Verity Sullivan

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12.45pm - 2.00pmMonday 6th November 2017

MG26 Myddelton Street Building City, University of London 1 Myddelton Street London EC1R 1UW United Kingdom

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