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Watford maternity unit scoops national award

Posted: 23 November 2017
Elizabeth George, Interim Head of Communications

The maternity unit at Watford General Hospital has won a prestigious Health Service Journal (HSJ) 2017 award for its achievements in improving performance. The unit won the national workforce award for its successful drive to recruit and retain midwives.

Picture of staff with the award on stage at the awards ceremony in front of a large tvcreenThe award was presented at the annual celebration of the finest achievements in the NHS last night (22 November) at the Intercontinental O2 in London.

In 2015 the unit had a high vacancy rate and was heavily reliant on agency staff. The Trust was concerned about the impact this had on standards of care for mothers and babies so we developed a plan to turn things around, including new career progression routes for all staff and new team structures.

The unit now has a preceptorship programme providing professional supervision, mentoring and support to develop staff skills and confidence. Other innovations include introducing a midwife role focused on managing risks and creating teams specialising in working with either low risk or vulnerable women. As well as improving the service we deliver, these changes have made the roles more varied and created more career progression opportunities for staff.  

The judges were impressed with the unit’s achievements including: cutting the number of agency staff by more than half; dramatically reducing agency costs; improving safety; and decreasing waiting times in the antenatal clinic.

Katie Fisher, Chief Executive of West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “I am beyond proud of the service we provide to mothers and babies. This award is a tribute to the leadership of Dr Gloria Rowland, our Associate Director for Midwifery and Gynaecology, and to the whole team who have worked so hard together. It’s wonderful that we have bucked the national trend for vacancy rates and that midwives positively want to work here!”


  1. For more information, please contact the communications team on: 01923 436280 or email: communications@whht.nhs.uk. Out of hours, please call 07900 228031.
  2. West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust serves people from across Hertfordshire, north London and further afield. It operates from three hospitals; Watford General, St Albans City and Hemel Hempstead. The trust sees around 600,000 patients a year and is one of the largest employers locally, with around 5,000 staff and volunteers.
  3. For more information about our hospitals, visit www.westhertshospitals.nhs.uk. You can also join our near 6,000 followers on Twitter (twitter.com/westhertsNHS) and find us on Facebook (facebook.com/westhertsNHS).