Berwick's maternity services up for discussion

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has reaffirmed its commitment to keeping Berwick's maternity services safe after they were temporarily suspended earlier this year.

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Berwick's maternity services still uncertain

Hundreds protested when services were initially suspended Credit: ITV

The future of Berwick's Maternity unit is still uncertain following a three month safety review.

Hundreds of people protested against the temporary suspension of births at the unit in August following a large fall in the number of mothers using it.

The nearest hospital is at least forty miles away.

Birth and post natal services will remain closed while Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust considers two recommendations - either to continue the regular operation with extra mid-wives, or to operate a model used in other rural areas.

This model relies more heavily on home births and a community mid wife system.


Report released after suspension of Berwick services

Berwick Maternity Unit Credit: ITV News

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust have released the findings of its safety review and put forward two options for the future of maternity services at Berwick.

Some of the services at Berwick Maternity Unit were suspended in August after two serious incidents highlighted concerns over safe practice, as a result of the low number of births taking place in the unit - only thirteen from 2011 - 2012 - the lowest number in England of any comparable unit.

The suspension of services caused protest in the local community.

The Trust have put forward two options for the future of the unit - that either additional midwives should be employed despite the low birth rates, or that an on-call system should be put in place similar to that of other rural areas.

Services to remain suspended whilst Berwick's future is decided

Maternity services at Berwick Hospital are up for discussion again after its NHS Trust released its recommendations for the future of the unit.

Some services will remain suspended until Northumbria Healthcare feel that it is safe enough for them to go ahead, but the unit will remain open to all antenatal, postnatal and consultant-led clinics for the meantime.

“There are no other rural parts of England with such a low number of births as Berwick and this is also something which we cannot ignore. These low birth numbers are not just a result of changing national guidance, which we must adhere to, but also the choices Berwick women are making about their maternity care – the majority of low risk women who could have chosen Berwick to deliver their baby, chose a consultant-led unit instead."

– Janice McNichol, Head of Midwifery at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

“As a Trust, we are fully committed to providing a safe, round the clock, maternity service for the people of Berwick and hope this is clear from the two options for a future safe service which we have put forward to our commissioners NHS North of Tyne for consideration."

– Janice McNichol, Head of Midwifery at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
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