Paul Wood, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Kettering General Hospital and chair of Healthier Together’s Maternity Clinical Working Group
The Department of Health’s announcement that it is investing £25 million in maternity units across the country is very welcome news.
I was particularly pleased that three local hospitals were included in the list of more than 100 which successfully bid for a share of the funding.
Northampton is one of eight hospitals to receive funding for new midwife-led units.
Milton Keynes is one of nearly 40 hospitals where new birthing pools will be installed.
Bedford Hospital will spend its allocation on furniture designed to make it easier and more comfortable for partners to stay overnight.
This is all about practical improvements that will make a real difference – making the experience of giving birth more relaxing and comfortable for everyone involved.
At the moment, there are real differences in the choices of care available to pregnant women depending on where they live and which hospital they use. For example, some hospitals offer full midwifery-led services, some don’t. Some have birthing pools, some haven’t.
Healthier Together’s Clinical Working Group dedicated to maternity care has involved clinicians from all five hospitals in the South East Midlands. We agreed unanimously that all pregnant women should be offered a wide choice of safe, high quality maternity services irrespective of locality. For example, one of our key aims is that all five of our hospitals should offer a separate midwife-led service capable of handling all uncomplicated pregnancies and births.
The latest additional funding for maternity services is a positive step in the right direction which we in Healthier Together welcome. However, there are a few more challenges ahead in order to take our maternity services forward to where we want them to be.
No hospitals will close. Northampton, Kettering, Milton Keynes, Luton & Dunstable and Bedford will all continue to provide most local services
All five hospitals will have an A&E and maternity service
Our first priority is safe, sustainable, high quality services
Our recommendations will be based on clinical evidence and local need