Maternity Strategy delivers for women

Nearly £4 million is to be invested in maternity care in NHS Lothian.

The health board has agreed to push ahead with a new vision for the service, in a bid to give children the best start in life.

It follows a major public consultation into the multi-million pound strategy during which women welcomed the plans.

Jackie Sansbury, Director of Strategic Planning and Modernisation, said:

 “As the Lothian population grows, it is important we continue to invest money in providing a modern health service equipped to deal with the changes.
“This approved strategy not only plans ahead for the future, but allows us to deliver real improvements for women and their babies by providing services tailored to meet their needs and wants.”

NHS Lothian agreed, at its recent meeting to invest a total of £3m of capital in the service between now and 2011 and to spend around £900,000 to boost numbers of staff.

A new midwife-led birthing centre, which will have the capacity to treat an extra 1500 expectant mums, will be created at the Simpson’s Centre for Reproductive Health.

The triage system in the main unit will also be upgraded to improve the service and organisation for women and their families, which has already begun with the appointment of a dedicated midwife specialist.

At the same time, facilities at St John’s Hospital will be upgraded and extra medical, midwifery and support staff will be employed across NHS Lothian to cope with the changing demands of the community and the unprecedented rise in the birth rate.

Maria Wilson, Chief Midwife, NHS Lothian, said:

 “Women have told us the things they want from their maternity services and we have listened to them.
“This is all about offering women choice about how and where their baby is born and making them feel more involved and in control of the process.”

NHS Lothian drafted the maternity strategy in response to the birth rate and the prediction that the population will continue to rise by around 10 per cent.

The number of babies born in Lothian soared by 11 per cent, from 8,538 in 2004 to 9,456 in 2007 – a total of 6,508 at the RIE and 2,948 at St John’s in 2007.

The three-month consultation was carried out to gather views from women and their families on the proposals and any other suggestions.

During the process, women said they wanted the birthing centre, where those who were assessed to be at low risk of complications could give birth in a more “homely” environment, but still have medical expertise close by, if required.

Pregnant women and mothers also said they strongly supported NHS Lothian’s commitment to supporting more homebirths.

The consultation found that more work had to be done with teenage mothers to engage with them and provide a more tailored service to their needs. As a result NHS Lothian will begin working with the group to improve their experience of childbirth.

Interpretation services will also be overhauled for women, who don’t have English as a first language, to ensure they understand each stage from ante-natal classes to the labour room.