St George’s foetal monitoring team has won a prestigious Health Service Journal (HSJ) Value in Healthcare award at an event held on 24th May.

The awards recognise outstanding efficiency by the NHS, excellent use of resources, and improvements in outcomes for patients.

St George’s won the ‘Value and Improvement in Obstetrics and Gynaecology’ category for its innovative fetal monitoring strategy. This was developed to tackle variations in how different practitioners interpret cardiotocographs (a way of recording a baby’s heartbeat and the contractions of the womb). This has helped St George’s have the lowest rate of emergency caesareans in London as well as a very low rates of babies with brain damage due to lack of oxygen in labour.

Mr Edwin Chandraharan, obstetric consultant at the trust, said: “If a cardiotocograph (CTG) shows abnormalities in a baby’s heart rate, the decision may be taken to perform an emergency caesarean section or an assisted delivery. Variations in how CTGs are interpreted can lead to unnecessary medical interventions which can carry risks for both mother and baby.

“To address this we introduced intensive training in interpreting CTGs for all midwives and obstetricians and were the first maternity unit in the UK to conduct a mandatory competency testing in CTG interpretation for midwives and obstetricians. This has not only reduced health risks to mothers and babies, but resulted in significant financial savings due to reduced inpatient stay and reduction in theatre costs. This has been a great team effort.”

Professor Andrew Rhodes, the trust’s medical director, added: “The team are delighted to have won this award, and rightly so. It’s great to see our work in foetal monitoring recognised on a national level like this. The team’s strategy has contributed to St George’s having less than half the emergency caesarean rate of any other London teaching hospital, with a similar number of complexity of births. Well done to all those involved in delivering this innovative service.”