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Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust are asking local women what they want from a maternity service.
The Trust will be holding a formal public consultation about the future of maternity services across their catchment area.
They currently run the maternity unit at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital (RHCH) in Winchester and the Andover Birth Centre (ABC). In a statement they said:
The inpatient service at ABC has been underused for many years with just four babies being born there a week. There is a national shortage of midwives and it has been hard to recruit to vacancies. In addition there has been a high level of unforeseen and unavoidable absence amongst maternity staff. This has led to the inpatient service at ABC being suspended on two occasions in recent years and it is currently suspended.
The ABC remains open for a range of ante and post natal clinics and services and is visited by around 140 women a week.
The Trust is proposing three options and wants to know which women across the whole area would prefer. They are:
Option one – All births to happen at RHCH, either in the consultant led unit or in the midwife led rooms. ABC to remain closed for inpatient services but maintain all other maternity services.
Option two – As option one with the additional choice of a Domino service at RHCH
Option three – As option one with the additional choice of a Domino service at RHCH and at ABC
The 'Domino' or domiciliary in and out model involves:
The community midwife (named midwife or known member of the small team) will confirm that labour has started and is progressing, either by phone or with a home visit
The community midwife will then meet the women at her chosen place of birth (RHCH or ABC), and care for her throughout the labour and birth
Within six hours following the birth, mother and baby return home
· The ongoing support would be provided by the community midwifery team in the usual way
Home births will remain unaffected and women across the whole area can choose to have their babies at home if they wish.
The consultation will run from 1 September to 31 October, during this time the Trust will visit mothers groups, local health forums, local authority meetings and consult with staff.
If you would like someone to visit your toddler group or other organisation please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
You can use the same address to send any comments you may have to the Trust.
The consultation document and other relevant materials will be available on the Trust website www.wehct.nhs.uk from 1 September, along with details of the online survey.
The results of the consultation will be made public at the meeting of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee at Hampshire County Council on 29 November.