Review finds Jersey's maternity services 'inadequate'

The Health and Social Security Scrutiny Panel found the current facilities are inadequate Credit: PA

Significant work is needed to improve Jersey's maternity services, according to a review out today.

Whilst progress has been made, Scrutiny's Health and Social Security Panel has raised concerns over the current state of facilities in the General Hospital, the continuity of care and support for breastfeeding and mental health.

The Panel began the review in February this year and consulted with parents and key stakeholders by using social media, focus groups and surveys.

It found the conditions on the wards are 'inadequate', highlighting the lack of toilet and shower facilities and temperature control measures, as well as poor infection control standards.

The current maternity provision includes a seventeen bed antenatal and postnatal ward and six birthing rooms, one of which can accommodate a birthing pool.

The NSPCC have welcomed the review but say more needs to be done.

The review also questions plans to refurbish the Maternity Unit over a two year period, whilst remaining fully operational, which it warns could cause disruption to services.

Instead it recommends the option of a stand alone midwifery-led unit to provide a more rapid response alongside the Maternity Unit.

It says Maternity staff and members of the public should be given the opportunity to be involved in the design of the new unit.

The review also highlights the lack of continuity of care, especially following traumatic births, warning that "compassion is not always at the centre of service culture".

Breastfeeding and mental health support also need improving after many women complained that advice was inconsistent and sometimes 'lacked compassion and respect'.

The leadership and governance of the service is also criticised, as is the degree to which women and their partners are involved in discussions about care during pregnancy and aftergiving birth.

The review has made the following key recommendations to the Minister for Health and Social Security:

  • Develop a system-wide maternity strategy and a maternity workforce strategy

  • Define a midwife-led model of care which incorporates antenatal and postnatal care

  • Appoint a Director of Midwifery and an Associate Medical Director to establish an appropriate maternity services leadership team

  • Appoint a specialist breastfeeding midwife and specialist mental health midwife

  • Ensure that full Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) status is achieved by Spring 2023

The panel also found a slight increase in the number of C-sections performed and a reduction in home births in 2020, compared to 2019.