Go to the Safer Care Victoria website - Safer Care Victoria logo

A Safer Care Victoria program

Home - 100,000 lives logo

Clinicians profile

Three top improvement tips from Ballarat Health Services

Published 03/02/2022

"It was a new language and now we can all converse in it!" Hear from Dr Natasha Frawley about her team's experience through an improvement project, and get some tips for your own service.

Share this update

Pictured (left to right): Sally Kruger, Georgina Fraser, Natasha Frawley, Laura Lee and Brylee Pratt from the Safer Baby team at Ballarat Health.

Why did you get involved in Safer Baby?

At Ballarat Health, we were already committed to trying to reduce stillbirth, and had worked to standardise our induction indications and identify women at higher risk.

Every stillbirth is a tragedy and we really wanted to do more to prevent it.

So we were so excited to see Safer Care Victoria announce a statewide collaborative to help us achieve this aim. It was an easy decision for us to join!

What was your goal?

The goal was to reduce preventable third trimester stillbirths within one year by 30 per cent.

Considering stillbirth rates hadn’t really changed across Australia for many years before this, it was a bold, energising goal.

What have you achieved?

We saw a dramatic reduction in third trimester stillbirth in our hospital in the first year. Ballarat Health is now below the state average in stillbirth rate, which is an amazing achievement.

We also had the unanticipated achievements of helping more women quit smoking in pregnancy, improving communication with women around timing of birth and induction of labour, improving our morbidity and mortality meeting processes and improving staff morale and confidence.

The collaborative gave us the opportunity to network and develop the work with other hospitals, and we learned so much hearing how other hospitals approached this.

Would you recommend participating in a SCV collaborative?

Definitely do it!

We even held a grand round at our hospital to promote the collaborative, in an effort to encourage other teams to join similar healthcare improvements in the future.

The training was excellent, learning the IHI improvement methodology was a new language and now we can all converse in it! We gained so much working with all the other teams from other hospitals from around the state.

The best benefit was that it has improved the outcomes for women and babies, and the flow on positive effect on those women and their families cannot be measured.

What feedback have you received from consumers involved in the project?

We learnt that it is important to talk about stillbirth reduction as part of our work.

One woman expressed relief when the topic of stillbirth reduction was raised. She had been so worried as her husband’s family had a history of stillbirth. We could go through her risk factors and make a plan that was safe for her.

Our consumer who joined our Safer Baby team, Jean Flynn, designed this graphic which we used as a sticker and poster to promote the collaborative. It highlights the five clinical aspects that were the focus of the work, and gives the hospital birth suite number.

"Reduce the risk of stillbirth" information

Tips for other health services

  • The hardest step is starting. Once the idea took hold, our goal to reduce stillbirth united staff across many areas.
  • Regular meetings kept us on track. We divided the clinical areas that needed work and reported back to each other. We involved our wider team with education opportunities and updates on the work achieved.
  • Include a consumer. We were lucky enough to have a fantastic consumer whose ideas and work was invaluable for keeping us grounded and enthused.

Dr Natasha Frawley is Clinical Director Women’s and Children’s Services; Head of Department Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Ballarat Health Services.

Share this update

Our stories