The security and privacy of patients are of paramount importance in any healthcare facility, and this is particularly crucial in maternity wards. Maternity wards handle sensitive and emotional situations, with new-borns and their mothers requiring a safe and secure environment. To maintain the highest level of security, hospitals and maternity wards must implement best practices to protect the well-being of both mothers and their new-borns.
This article was created following the best practice guidance provided by NHS England and will explore some of the essential measures for ensuring optimal maternity ward security.
1. Limited Access Control
Implementing restricted access control measures is a fundamental step in ensuring the security of a maternity ward. Only authorised personnel should be granted access to the ward, and visitor policies must be clearly defined and enforced. This can be achieved by using electronic access control systems, ID badges, or biometric identification methods to limit entry to designated staff, patients, and approved visitors.
2. Surveillance Systems
Comprehensive video surveillance systems are essential for monitoring activities within the maternity ward. Strategically placed cameras can help deter potential threats and provide evidence in case of any security breaches or incidents. Surveillance systems should cover all entrances, hallways, waiting areas, and nurseries, ensuring continuous monitoring of critical areas. Regular maintenance and monitoring of these systems are necessary to ensure they function optimally.
3. Staff Training
Thoroughly trained staff members are the first line of defence when it comes to maternity ward security. Hospital personnel should receive comprehensive training on security protocols, emergency response procedures, and the identification of potential risks. This training should include topics such as infant abduction prevention drills, recognising suspicious behaviour, and maintaining a secure environment. Regular refresher courses and drills are crucial to ensure staff members remain vigilant and up-to-date with security protocols.
4. Baby Tagging Systems
To prevent new-born abduction and ensure the safety of infants, maternity wards should implement a baby tagging system. These systems employ electronic monitoring devices, such as ankle tags that trigger alarms if a baby is moved outside designated areas without authorisation. Baby tagging systems ensure the greatest level of protection from the risk of abduction and provide peace of mind for both healthcare providers and new parents.
5. Secure Identification and Documentation
Proper identification procedures are essential to ensure that new-borns are matched with the correct mother, as well as an effective system of staff identification. Hospitals should implement standardised identification protocols, such as the use of unique identification bands for both mother and baby. Furthermore, electronic medical record systems should be employed to securely document and store patient information, reducing the risk of data breaches and unauthorised access.
6. Staff and Visitor Awareness
Promoting a culture of security awareness among staff and visitors is vital. Hospitals should display signage throughout the maternity ward, reminding individuals to maintain confidentiality, report suspicious behaviour, and follow security protocols. Informative materials, such as brochures or pamphlets, can be distributed to new mothers, educating them about security measures and their role in ensuring a secure environment.
The Maternity Abduction Risk Bulletin (MARB) is closed group for NHS professionals in Maternity, Security, Patient Safety, Safeguarding and other relevant senior roles within the NHS to contribute and receive updates about risks and incidents surrounding infant abduction. By becoming a member of the group, NHS professionals can become more vigilant to potential risks and share the critical information with fellow staff members to improve security.
Maintaining optimal security within maternity wards is crucial to safeguard the well-being of mothers and new-borns. By implementing the best practices outlined above, hospitals can create a secure and private environment that instils confidence in patients and their families. Maternity ward security is a collective effort that involves staff training, robust access control systems, surveillance technology, and infant protection measures. By prioritising security protocols and continuously evaluating and updating them, healthcare facilities can provide the highest level of care while ensuring the safety and privacy of their patients.
Xtag Medical is the leading Baby Tagging System supplier for the NHS, protecting over 300,000 new-borns in over 60 NHS Trusts annually. Learn more: here.