Introducing darker toned manikins across our maternity services

Since its implementation, the NHS has set out to provide universal healthcare for all. As a Trust, this is something we feel passionately about, and our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team, alongside our race equality networks, have identified a series of projects that will have immediate benefits to all patients – the latest of which is a roll out of manikins of different skin tones across our maternity services.

Over sixty percent of our staff hail from Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds and we support over a million people in North West London each year from ethnic backgrounds. Despite these figures, we know that patient care is not always equitable and that ethnic minority patients experience poorer healthcare outcomes compared to the general population. An example is the risk of maternal death being five times greater for Black women and two times greater for Asian women compared with the risk for White women in England.

As part of our Trust plan to change this narrative, in collaboration with Imperial Health Charity, we are introducing a range of different skin tone manikins and simulators across our maternity sites at St Mary’s and Queen Charlotte's & Chelsea hospitals. By making these manikins and simulators available and visible across the Trust, we hope to improve teaching, and better equip staff to identify signs of health issues and deterioration in Black and Asian patients sooner, improving health outcomes. We also hope to improve patient experience and wellbeing by ensuring our patients from ethnic backgrounds feel acknowledged and their needs catered for.

Staff across our maternity services have received three new training tools for maternity education: a birth simulator, episiotomy simulator, and a cannulation simulator. Combined, these simulators will ensure our clinicians provide care that is inclusive of all backgrounds, while gaining further training and confidence in skills on models that are representative of all the communities we serve.

Olayinka Iwu, head of Equality Diversity and Inclusion, said, “I would like to say a special thank you to Imperial Health Charity. It was great to work with networks and the Charity to bring the manikins project to life; we hope this will have a positive effect on outcomes for our patients and support the learning experience of our staff who will be using these tools.”

Wendy O’Brien, midwifery education lead midwife and clinical placement facilitator, said, “It’s really great to have these birthing simulators and teaching aids to educate staff and so important that they represent diversity and inclusivity in our training.”