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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Abu Dhabi's flagship maternity hospital plans 'new model of care' for all expectant mothers

A single consultant will be appointed to an expectant mother throughout her pregnancy, as part of a drive to improve services at the government-run facility

About 6,000 children are born at Corniche Hospital each year. Reem Mohammed / The National
About 6,000 children are born at Corniche Hospital each year. Reem Mohammed / The National

Abu Dhabi's flagship maternity hospital, Corniche Hospital, has unveiled a "new model" of care to better serve expectant mothers and identify problems at an early stage.

Medics will appoint a single consultant to follow each mother throughout her pregnancy as part of a broader reform of services.

“We always thought that we were too big to do that,” said chief medical officer Dr Paul Bosio.

Parents in hospitals across the country complain of seeing different doctors and specialists throughout a pregnancy.

“It used to be difficult to guarantee the same doctor for the mother — never mind a consultant, but we now have a system where the mother will be followed by the same consultant throughout her pregnancy and after,” he said.

The government-owned hospital did not hire any additional consultants, rather they reworked the schedules.

“What we did was make them work in a different way.”

Each consultant from obstetrics and gynaecology — the hospital has 26 — is given a group of mothers who he or she cares for throughout their term. Their schedule is adjusted to ensure they always see the same families.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - OCT 5: Dr. Leanne Bricker, Corniche Hospital’s Chair of Fetal Medicine, looks at healthy child's 3d image scan. (Photo by Reem Mohammed/The National) Reporter: Shireena Al Nuwais Section: NA
Dr Leanne Bricker, chair of Fetal Medicine, looks at healthy child's 3D image scan. Reem Mohammed / The National

Corniche Hospital has undergone a series of improvements following problematic overcrowding in recent years. Earlier this year, efforts were made to ensure that majority patients get their own room, instead of sharing with others.

It changed its insurance policy in 2014 to only accept UAE nationals carrying the Thiqa card, though it treated residents in emergencies.

At the time, its staff was delivering 12,000 babies per year — by comparison the busiest maternity unit in the UK, Liverpool Women's Hospital, delivers about 8,000.

That changed in May when the hospital changed its insurance once again to welcome all residents. The hospital now delivers about 6,000 babies a year, and over the past four decades has performed more than 250,000 delivered.

As with most medical facilities, the Corniche Hospital also faced challenges with waiting times, with some mothers complaining having to wait for hours before they are seen.

“This was our biggest problem, again, as a result of sheer volume, but this has been resolved because of this new model of care. Since the consultants see the same patients, they can now control their appointments and scheduling.”

Waiting times “improved significantly” with a target time of less than 20 minutes.

Abu Dhabi, U.A.E., September 19, 2018. Dr. Paul Bosio is Corniche Hospital's Chief Medical Officer.  Victor Besa / The National Section: NA Reporter: Shareena Al Nuwais
Dr Paul Bosio said the government-run hospital is going through extensive changes. Victor Besa / The National

“Part of the issue with waiting times is that it is not just a matter of seeing your doctor but also involves a scan," said Dr Bosio, who previously managed publicly-owned NHS hospitals in the UK.

"It is not an excuse but that adds to the challenge. The waiting time was an issue and this model of care will resolve two issues — the waiting time and continuity of care for the patient.

“It is very personalised care that we are offering now,” he said.

Corniche Hospital, he said, has benefited from competing with the private sector. Private hospitals have taken some of the patients that led to its overcrowding, which drove up standards.

“Mums expect better and deserve better. We have a completely different model now," he said.

Crucially, he said the hospital deals with emergency cases better than smaller private facilities.

“Practically anyone in Abu Dhabi with major complications and a baby that's too small comes to Corniche," Dr Bosio said.

The hospital also regularly gets referrals from the GCC.

“We are the only hospital in the region that offers invasive neonatal surgery where babies have surgery while inside the womb,”

"We have tier-one consultants that the government has invested in to bring here for Corniche to be the safety net of mothers.

“We belong to the government so we belong to the people. Our mandate from the government is give the best care for mothers both nationals and non-nationals.”

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Read more:

Abu Dhabi's Corniche Hospital opens to expats — four years after running out of room

Corniche Hospital limits patient numbers after running out of room