Midwife unit could return to City Hospital

PUBLISHED: 18:32 18 December 2008 | UPDATED: 13:48 06 May 2010

A MIDWIFE-led community unit could return to St Albans City Hospital in the wake of a review of maternity services in Herts. It is one of the recommendations in the independent review which was commissioned by the two Herts primary care trusts and will he

A MIDWIFE-led community unit could return to St Albans City Hospital in the wake of a review of maternity services in Herts.

It is one of the recommendations in the independent review which was commissioned by the two Herts primary care trusts and will help influence the future direction of maternity and women's services.

The report calls for the opportunity to develop community-based midwifery care - which includes everything from ante and post-natal care to delivery - at St Albans City together with the Hemel Hempstead and Welwyn Garden City sites.

It follows interviews with mothers which showed they highly valued the continuity of care during pregnancy that could be provided by small teams.

The report also supports the decision to close the birthing unit at Hemel Hempstead which was used by many St Albans mothers-to-be until it closed because of staffing issues in 2005. It had built up an excellent reputation based on feedback from the women who used it and from clinical staff.

The report revealed that local women had been the strongest voice in favour of reopening the unit particularly because of the problem of travelling to Watford General which houses the main birthing unit for West Herts.

But the report says that in light of the staffing issues and the uncertainty over the future of Hemel Hempstead Hospital, it supports the decision to close it.

It also looked at the existing policy for home births in Herts which are higher than the national average and have been for some years. While community midwife services appear to be able to cope with the current demand, if there was an increase there would have to be some review of staffing and service provision.

Anne Walker, chief executive of the Herts primary care trusts, said: "Our aim is to provide women with access to safe, high-quality maternity care for themselves and their babies.

"During this review we've heard from mothers who have told us that they want personal support from their midwife and also the security of immediate medical back-up if they need it. We also heard from midwives who are keen to give women a choice in where and how they give birth.

"It is now our responsibility to make sure that services are developed that meet these needs and which provide the right balance of quality, choice, safety and accessibility for mums-to-be.


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