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Berwick-upon-Tweed Town Council,
Berwick WorkSpace,
Boarding School Yard,
90 Marygate,
Berwick-upon-Tweed.
TD15 1BN
T: 01289 302391
E: admin@berwick-tc.gov.uk


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Deliveries to start again at Berwick Maternity Unit

Released on 22 May 2013

Low risk women will soon be able to deliver their babies at the Berwick Maternity Unit.

This follows a decision by the Joint Locality Executive Board of NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) that the model of care should be a unit open from 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 2.30pm at weekends with a 24/7 on call service for low risk women who wish to deliver there or at home. Antenatal and postnatal clinics for low and high risk women will continue and there will also be enhanced community midwifery support.

Arrangements will now be made by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to re-open the unit for deliveries as soon as possible.

In reaching the decision the board agreed that:

* Women will be discharged based on their clinical need and that there will be no overnight discharges unless a new mother wishes to go home and is well enough to do so.

Taking into account comments made during the consultation they agreed that the enhanced postnatal care should include:

* Daily telephone contact by a trained healthcare assistant/midwife following discharge, to give any immediate advice and signpost to relevant services if required.
* Home visits by trained healthcare assistants to offer support with feeding and baby care ie bathing, general baby wellbeing and such visits would be arranged to meet needs of individual women.
* Drop-in postnatal care at the unit provided by qualified midwives and healthcare assistants to address any wellbeing concerns for new mothers or babies, including full breastfeeding support. If necessary, new mothers will be able to stay in the unit during opening times to receive feeding support.
* Greater links with local organisations such as Sure Start, which provide a range of sessions for new mothers to support breastfeeding and care of the baby.

This model of care will involve the midwives continuing to undergo mandatory rotational training at Wansbeck General Hospital to provide experience of different types of deliveries.

The board said that it would be asking Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to provide some new information for pregnant women to help them make an informed choice about their maternity care (depending on their clinical need).

Dr Alistair Blair, chief clinical officer of NHS Northumberland CCG, said: "We are pleased that low risk women will soon be able to deliver their babies at the Berwick unit and we hope that people will feel we have addressed some of their concerns. We know how important this issue has been locally and I would like to reassure people that we have given it a great deal of thought and consideration.

"It is really important that we do what we can to preserve rural services. As such, we have listened to comments made during the public consultation and have worked with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to explore ways of providing a midwifery-led service that is safe and sustainable and also, we hope, acceptable to local women.

"While we are mindful that a 24/7 on call service seems to be working well in other small midwifery-led units across the country, we will be working very closely with the trust to monitor the delivery of the new service in the coming months."

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is stressing that there is a central 24 hour midwifery telephone advice service available which any pregnant woman who needs advice is encouraged to use when the unit is closed. Pregnant women in Berwick and the surrounding area will be reminded about this telephone service, which is staffed around the clock by trained midwives.

In addition, the board agreed that in response to other comments made during the consultation that the CCG should ask the consultant-led maternity units to ensure that women from rural areas who attend thinking that their labour may have started are allowed to stay for a while to see if it progresses rather than being sent home. During the consultation some women said that this had resulted in unnecessary travelling for them.

Dr Blair added: "Finally, we would like to thank people in Berwick for the support they have provided to help us consider a way forward for midwifery-led care in the town. We have been very grateful for the good working relationship that has existed with the town and county councillors, the MP, the Save the Berwick Maternity Unit group, local people and our colleagues at Northumbria Healthcare."

The decision will go to the CCG's governing body on 19 June 2013, whose role it is to assure the decision making process. In the meantime, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust will make the necessary arrangements to introduce the new service.

Mr David Evans, medical director at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said: "We welcome today's decision and will work closely with our commissioners to implement the agreed model of care. Our focus throughout this process has been to ensure that we can provide a safe and sustainable maternity service in Berwick. We look forward now to the future and to reinstating the option for low risk women to give birth in Berwick.

"We would also like to take this opportunity to thank our team of staff at Berwick Maternity Unit for their understanding and commitment during this time."

 



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