Maternal & Neonatal Health

Cheshire & Merseyside is home to some of the leading clinical and research experts in maternal and child health.

The local population health need

The Public Health England, Child Health Profile for March 2019 shows the following:

  • More babies in Liverpool are now dying before their first birthdays.
  • The teenage pregnancy rate is worse than England, with 195 girls becoming pregnant in a year.
  • 7% of women smoke while pregnant which is worse than England. Breastfeeding rates in this area are worse than England. 55.0% of mothers initiate breastfeeding. By 6 to 8 weeks after birth, 35.2% of mothers are still breastfeeding.

The Importance of Addressing Maternal & Neonatal Health


What happens in pregnancy and early childhood impacts on physical and emotional health all the way through to adulthood.

  • Supporting good maternal health is important for safe delivery and good birth weight to give babies the best start
  • The prevention of adverse health factors in pregnancy is vital. Premature and small babies are more likely to have poorer outcomes.
  • The earliest experiences, starting in the womb, shape a baby’s brain development.

The Way Forward

To address the regional maternal and child health needs, the Starting Well programme consulted with partners to understand the health priorities for clinicians, academics and other stakeholders across the Cheshire & Merseyside region. To assist us in this consultation process, we used an adapted Delphi-Method.

From this consultation, we have developed the following programme domains and programmes.


We will work with partners to:

    • Discover Partners’ Priorities
    • Educate Partners in Clearly Defined Areas
    • Improve Partners’ Collaborations in Defined Areas

Programme priorities

Domain (1) Promoting healthy lifestyles for all

Programme (1) Promoting healthy living

Potential project areas

– Determining why initiation and maintenance rates for breastfeeding remain so poor and the most effective interventions to improve them.
– Developing the evidence of efficacy for strategies and interventions that will have the greatest positive impact in pregnancy, childhood and amongst young people and families, specifically

  • optimise nutrition.
  • overcome obesity and improve diet.
  • improve the adoption of physical activity.
  • address substance misuse.

Programme (2) Mitigating and preventing adversity


Potential project areas

– Understanding the prenatal/perinatal contributors to premature birth, in order to reduce premature birth and improve pre-term child health outcomes.
– Developing strategies to promote the importance and evaluate the uptake of vaccinations
across our community.
– Developing strategies to identify and support early interventions to address Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), specifically to support;
– front-line staff (e.g. health and social care professionals, education providers).
– children and families experiencing ACEs.

Domain (2) Improving chronic conditions for all

Programme (3) Promoting positive mental health and wellbeing


Potential project area

– Determining key interventions that will have the greatest positive impact on the mental health and psychological wellbeing in pregnancy, childhood and amongst young people and families, specifically to;

  • manage stress and anxiety.
  • assess the impact of targeted early interventions in schools.
  • develop the evidence base to tackle the link between poor mental health and social deprivation.

• Determining the most effective strategies to support the needs of children and young people with complex health care needs/disabilities.

Programme (4) Tackling chronic inflammatory and infection related disorders
Potential project areas

• Developing and evaluating the evidence base, specifically to;

  • improve early referral, appropriate diagnosis and management for children and young people with inflammatory conditions.
  • reduce the impact of respiratory disease for children and young people.
  • reduce the lifelong health implications of cardio-respiratory disorders.
  • Identifying individuals at increased risk of developing chronic disorders.

Domain (3) Implementing effective co-ordinated care for all

Programme (5) Developing co-ordinated care

Potential project areas

• Developing effective co-ordinated care for improving the health outcomes in pregnancy and for children and young people, specifically by;

  • determining and evaluating the best methods (including, for example, Sure Start and Trailblazer sites) to foster partnerships across health and social care.
  • supporting the development and evaluation of a robust digital informatic platform and surveillance system, seamlessly linking primary care and hospital data.
  • refining and evaluating early intervention support and education for those children and families at risk.

Latest News


Applications are now invited to Round 3 of the Hugh Greenwood Legacy for Children’s Health Research.

The University of Liverpool is in receipt of an £800,000 gift intended to fund a competition for Children’s health research projects held between the University of Liverpool and Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.

Applications for round 3 of the funding are invited to support outstanding children’s health research that addresses the needs of Alder Hey patients and their families/ carers. Specifically, they must address one of more of the Liverpool Health Partners ‘Starting Well’ Strategic Priorities (see Starting Well priorities).

Applications must have one senior nominated healthcare or research professional lead from Alder Hey and one senior nominated lead applicant from the University of Liverpool. The fund supports three streams for funding;

  • Co-supervised (non-clinical) PhD Studentships
  • Collaborative pump-priming awards
  • Clinical and Non-clinical Research Fellowships

Full guidance notes can be found here Hugh Greenwood Guidance doc 2020. The 2020 application form can be downloaded here Hugh Greenwood Application form 2020. The deadline to submit an application is 9am, Monday 12th October 2020.

If you have any queries, please address them to


C-GULL is an exciting programme of research focused on improving the health and well being of children and their families within the Liverpool City Region.

Read more here.



Please find COVID-19 resources and literature which you may find useful. Read more here.

Contact us

Prof. Michael Beresford – Programme Director

Dr. Colin Morgan – Deputy Director

Dr. Carrie Hunt – Programme Manager

Tel: 07500 835435



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