15 February 2017
Women whose births are considered low risk in Shropshire will continue to have choice about where to give birth in the future, the county’s leading Midwife has vowed.
Sarah Jamieson, Head of Midwifery at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH), said she recognised the importance of birth choice and for women to give birth close to home.
Sarah made her comments following a highly successful national maternity conference hosted at the Shropshire Conference Centre at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital (RSH) on Monday (13 February 2017).
The “Better Births” Shropshire and Beyond conference aimed to look at new ways to provide the best care possible for women in Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Powys.
The conference, which was attended by more than 100 people, explored how the national Maternity Review, chaired by Baroness Julia Cumberlege, could be implemented in the area. Baroness Cumberlege chaired the event, which also featured internationally renowned speakers.
Sarah said the conference was the start of a journey to explore how the national Maternity Review’s recommendations could be implemented in Shropshire – and she said that maintaining choice of birth location for women would be at the heart of considerations for the future.
She said: “We’ve already begun looking at ways that we can achieve ‘Better Births’ and this conference was an excellent way of developing this work and beginning to engage with local communities.
“There are four broad types of setting for care in labour and birth: at home, at stand-alone Midwife Led Units (MLUs), at Consultant Led Units and at MLUs that are alongside, or on the same site as, Consultant Led Units.
“The ‘Better Births’ National Maternity Review (2016) noted that in 2012, 87% of births took place in NHS Consultant Led Units, 9% in an along-side unit, 2% in a free standing MLU and 2% at home. SaTH’s annual statistics aren’t too dissimilar and would support this picture.
“Our aim, when implementing the recommendations of the review, is to maintain choice for all low-risk women, giving them the option of giving birth at home, at an MLU or at our Consultant Led Unit.
“We also want to explore the creation of Community Hubs where women could access clinics and appointments closer to their home.
“But to do this we will need to work differently and we have begun to explore how we might do this.”
The conference focused on:
- developing community hubs;
- the challenges and values of standalone MLUs;
- engaging local communities;
- the financial arguments for standalone MLUs;
- management of change; and
- care pathways to enhance safety
Sarah said that the aim of the service was to provide a “full range of choices for all women accessing our care, and to ensure that this care is equitable, safe and of the highest quality standards”.
“Times have changed and we have seen a shift in where women are choosing to give birth. We need to be bold and imaginative to keep abreast of these changes, to listen to our communities, to engage with our users and our Commissioners to enact the changes necessary to implement ‘Better Births’,” added Sarah.
“The key message from Monday’s conference was that we should ensure continuity of carer for women during all stages of their pregnancy, labour and birth and that, in order to do this, we need to provide staffing for our women, rather than concentrate on staffing a building. This key message was reinforced at the conference by our speakers from both Portsmouth and Powys.
“We will soon be going out to meet people in our communities to gather the views of users and other key stakeholders to explore the possibilities of how we might begin to implement the recommendations of the Maternity Review.
“This is a great opportunity to take our service forward whilst ensuring we provide birth choice for women in the county and beyond.”