Transforming Maternity Services Together
A proposal to transform maternity services across Bath and North East Somerset (BANES), Swindon and Wiltshire has been shared with the general public for their consideration today, Monday 12 November.
The proposal has been developed after listening to the views of women, families and staff over the last two years by all the NHS organisations that plan and buy health services as well as those that provide or manage maternity services across Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire. Together these organisations make up the Local Maternity System.
The proposal addresses the issues posed by changes to the population. The average age of a woman giving birth in the UK is now 35. More and more women are experiencing high risk pregnancies (for example, because of high blood pressure, obesity or diabetes) which means they need to be supported in a hospital setting with an expert medical team available. The combination of these factors means there is vastly increased pressure on services at the Obstetric Units at the Royal United Hospital in Bath, Great Western Hospital in Swindon and Salisbury District Hospital.
In addition, many women with a low risk pregnancy are choosing to have their babies in an Obstetric Unit because they are worried about having to move by ambulance to another site during or after their labour if they need the help of a doctor. Women need a safe, convenient alternative so staff at the three obstetric units at Bath, Salisbury and Swindon hospitals can focus on mothers who really need their care.
The plans have been developed to ensure services are efficient and sustainable to support future population growth, changes in housing policy, and the repatriation of military personnel to South Wiltshire from April 2019.
The proposal offers the following:
- To continue to support births in two, rather than four, of our Freestanding Midwifery Units across Bath and North East Somerset, Wiltshire and Swindon. Women will still be able to have their baby in Chippenham and Frome Freestanding Midwifery Units, and antenatal and postnatal clinics will continue to be provided in all four – at Chippenham, Frome, Paulton and Trowbridge as well as all other current locations e.g. GP practices. A detailed travel impact analysis was undertaken to inform our proposal to continue supporting births in two of the Freestanding Midwifery Units.
- To create two new Alongside Midwifery Units, one at Salisbury District Hospital and one at the Royal United Hospital, which will provide more women with the opportunity to have a midwife-led birth. These two units will be in addition to the White Horse Birth Centre that already exists at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon.
- To improve the range of antenatal and postnatal services, for example by providing more breastfeeding support to women in their own homes. We also want to support more women to give birth at home if this is their preferred choice.
- To replace the nine community postnatal beds (four at Chippenham and five at Paulton Freestanding Midwifery Units) with support closer to or in women’s homes. Women who need to be admitted for medical treatment after giving birth would be treated in their local Obstetric Unit at one of our acute hospitals in Bath, Salisbury and Swindon.
- 95% of the time post-natal beds in our Freestanding Midwifery Units are empty as women rarely need to stay in a community hospital after giving birth.
- 89 antenatal or post-natal beds are available at our Obstetric Units for women who need them
Once the public consultation has closed, the responses will be carefully and independently analysed and the results used to help the Governing Bodies of Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Groups make a final decision by Spring 2019.
Find out more on our consultation webpage.
All the consultation information and documents, including ways to get involved and to provide feedback will be available online from Monday 12 November, at: www.transformingmaternity.org.uk