NHS Newham


A significant and high profile problem to solve The transformation of maternity services in Newham has been one of the most dramatic in the NHS.

Two years ago the service was in crisis with over-stretched midwives struggling to cope with one of highest birth rates in the country in cramped facilities. Women’s satisfaction levels were understandably low. Since then a radical modernisation programme has been implemented based on one of the most exciting and innovative developments in primary care in a generation.

Following a consultation exercise in which the views of pregnant women were actively sought, Newham has become the first area in the NHS to have midwives permanently based in children’s centres so they are part of the daily lives of families. For the first time, midwives would be permanently based in local communities with a centre just a “pram-walk” from most areas of the borough.

The new Freemasons Midwifery Centre, is one of four newly acquired premises. In addition to providing clinical space for midwifes working in the front line service team, would also accommodate all back office support services and personnel. This would include a provision for some 24-hour use workstations.

Charged with delivering a solution to the problem was Maternity Modernisation Commissioner, Fiona Laird and Interim Facilities Manager Tony Murphy. Tony had worked with Kinnarps before and knew they would deliver an innovative solution to the brief but also provide furniture that was fit for the purpose and would stand up to daily and extended use. He was also confident that Kinnarps had the resources necessary to deliver the required statement with the minimum of fuss.

Kinnarps have been retained to provide similar services for all planned Centres, the next of which is scheduled for completion in September 2009.


The mission: improved communication with the local community Opening at the end of July 2009 the first local centre would need to deliver a number of benefits. A big increase in attendance for antenatal appointments, see a significant rise in booking before 12+6 weeks and improve recruitment and retention of midwives; all these things are known to reduce infant mortality.

Following a visit to Freemasons Maternity Centre, Eleanor Hobart, Senior Project Officer Maternity, Healthcare for London, said what she saw had made a lasting impression on her and she would recommend the work commissioned in Newham“ as an example of best practice.”

Essentially the focus would be on Improving the visibility of the service in the wider community in a way that would bridge any existing cultural divides. Newham is a Borough with a great wealth of ethnic diversity with over 120 different languages spoken by local residents. Merely communicating the details of the range of services on offer would be a challenge but attention would also need to be given to publicising the new maternity services for mothers-to-be to ensure that they accessed them.

NHS Newham therefore produced a brief that would deliver a strong image for their flagship centre; that would back up other publicity efforts and provide maximum impact to local residents and other interested parties. Design themes and furniture specification would then be rolled-out across the other proposed centres.

(Images: 'Redshift Photography')


Carefully considered innovations to meet precise needs Kinnarps products provided the perfect match for NHS Newham’s need for inspiring hardwearing furniture.

Very careful consideration was given to the choice of office furniture for the clinical rooms, waiting area and back offices involving three separate visits to Kinnarps showrooms in Heathrow and Covent Garden. The chosen desking solution was series[T] alongside series[e] storage, all specified in white laminate finish for a clean, modern look.

9000 series chairs were selected for the waiting area for women and their children and 5000 series task chairs for the main back office area where the majority of the Centre’s midwifery staff would work. Brightly coloured fabrics were chosen to provide a vibrant contrast with the clean white desk and storage finishes.

In the Waiting area, furniture pieces were deliberately chosen to offer an unconventional look to encourage communication and interaction between the Centre’s women and families. The ‘S’-shaped sofa Trix sectional sofa arrangement would allow visitors to be seated partially facing one another rather than in rigid rows. A play pit supplied in bright, primary colours by a Kinnarps supply partner was also provided to occupy toddlers accompanying a parent.

The ‘Parent Education Room’ – a space set aside for ante and post natal classes - required the installation of deep Storewall storage units capable of accommodating all the equipment used in these classes. Eye-catching, custom graphics were used to bring the room to life (see picture opposite . . .). Stackable seating for this area was specifically chosen for the wide, lowered seats to provide additional comfort with handles on seat pans to make it easier for pregnant women to rise from a seated position.

“Kinnarps responded well to the initial brief and rose to the challenge of providing furniture that will help engender a user-friendly clinic environment.” Tony Murphy, Interim Facilities Manager, Newham Primary Care Trust.

Project Facts

YEAR:                    2009

CLIENT:                  NHS NEWHAM

EMPLOYEES:          20

                               FIONA LAIRD, MATERNITY MODERNIS'N CMSR
                               ASHLEY HAYWARD, KINNARPS SALES