Shropshire midwifery hubs ‘will be for better’
Proposed community midwifery hubs will provide better services than currently available, one of those involved in drawing up a new model for the county has said.
Fiona Ellis, from Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said a minimum of five community hubs would be open for 12 hours a day with doctors and obstetric services as part of the changes.
However, she confirmed that mothers would only be able to give birth at the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, Royal Shrewsbury Hospital or at home.
The news of the plans, which are subject to consultation, has angered campaigners who want to see births return to the midwife led units at Ludlow, Bridgnorth and Oswestry, which are currently closed because of a shortage of midwives.
She told a meeting of Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Councils joint health scrutiny committee that the model of midwifery care for the area had been devised to level up the service.
“The maternity hubs will be open for at least 12 hours a day for planned midwifery care and there will also be access to, and support from, a midwife 24/7,” she said.
She also moved to reassure people concerned about the potential travel distances for mothers to give birth.
She said: “Getting to your place of birth in time is the main thing that mothers-to-be are concerned about and the excellent triage services will enable midwives to ensure that happens.
“Services will include scanning and obstetrics and access to a doctor. Postnatal support will include help with emotional health and well being, feeding and bonding.”
Chairwoman of the committee, Councillor Karen Calder, said that meetings she had attended recently had including listening to local midwives speaking, which had made for difficult listening.
She said: “It made for very hard listening. It was obvious that the only thing that was keeping the service standing was the goodwill of the staff.
“This was a service under extreme pressure and now is exactly the right time to take a look at its future.”
Under the CCG proposal, which will go out to consultation, midwife hubs would be launched in Shrewsbury, Telford, Oswestry, Bridgnorth and Ludlow, which could lead to the closure of Midwife-Led Units in Ludlow, Bridgnorth and Oswestry.
The units, which have been closed to women giving birth for the past six months due to staffing problems, are due to reopen on January 1.
Ludlow councillor Tracey Huffer has been highly critical of the plan.
She said: “The plan, still subject to confirmation, is that only prenatal and postnatal services will be offered at Ludlow, Bridgnorth and Oswestry maternity units. Babies will have to be born somewhere else. As we have seen in Ludlow, that will sometimes be at home without medical support. This downgrading of rural services has been described by one medical professional as ‘a real and exciting opportunity’.
Councillor Huffer, who is also a practising nurse, added: “The whole consultation over the future of rural maternity units has been a charade. This proposal makes a mockery of all of us who gave time up to attend so-called consultation workshops.”