Significant changes are going to be made to maternity services across Swindon, Bath and North East Somerset and Wiltshire after varios proposals were approved today.
It follows three years of consultations with more than 4,000 mums, families, staff and partners run by the region's Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), after which they have decided to impliment the following changes:
- Create an Alongside Midwifery Unit at Salisbury Hospital Foundation Trust
- Create an Alongside Midwifery Unit at the Royal United Hospital in Bath
- Continue to support births in two, not four Freestanding Midwifery Units. This
would mean births ceasing in Trowbridge and Paulton with antenatal and postnatal
- Enhance current provision of antenatal and postnatal care
- Improve and better promote the home birthing service
- Replace the five community postnatal beds in Paulton and the four community
postnatal beds in Chippenham with support closer to, or in women’s homes. This will
be phased with four beds remaining in Chippenham for up to 12 months to support
co-creation of new pathways
The CCG says the changes were developed to "better meet the needs and choices of women and families" across the area.
It is also said the changes will mean "more equal access to choice" about where to give birth.
“These proposals will help us provide more choices for birth to more women and will build a strong foundation on which to enhance continuity of care so that more women can see the same midwife or small team of midwives before, during and after labour," Sarah Merritt, Acting Deputy Director of Nursing and Midwifery at the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust said.
“The addition of Alongside Midwifery Units at the Royal United Hospital in Bath and at Salisbury Hospital will give our birthing mums a new option for labour and delivery, significantly enhancing choices in Salisbury in particular.
"Our midwives and staff are excited to embrace this new way of working in purpose built facilities."
Dr Ruth Grabham, Medical Director for Bath and North East Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group and Governing Body member said: “We are very grateful to everyone who gave their time and expertise over the last three years as this proposal was developed and refined."
"From mums and dads who use the services to clinical experts and local organisations – everyone has helped to steer a path through the complexities of service change."
Dr Ruth Grabham added that the decision could be met with some disappointment in Paulton and Trowbridge, where beds are set to be lost.
“We know that in both Paulton and Trowbridge there were strong feelings in support of women continuing to be able to give birth in the existing Free Standing Midwifery Units and some people will be disappointed by today’s decision," she said.
"However this proposal was approved to help us better meet the needs and choices of women and families across the whole of Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire.
“As a result of feedback we have delayed the closure of four of the community postnatal beds to allow more time to work with mums, families and staff to co-design a new community postnatal offer that will meet the needs of local people.
"The feedback, for example around breastfeeding and mental health support, will also be used to help shape our future maternity services.”
While some services are changing, the CCG says it is "important to note" that the changes will not lead to a smaller budget for maternity services in the area or the closure of any buildings.