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Work on track to redesign maternity services in Cumbria and North Lancashire

Homepage » News » Work on track to redesign maternity services in Cumbria and North Lancashire

Work on track to redesign maternity services in Cumbria and North Lancashire

Posted on Friday 18th December 2015

Work to redesign maternity services in Cumbria and North Lancashire, including looking at how to keep four consultant-led maternity units in Barrow, Carlisle, Lancaster and Whitehaven is on target with expected progress.

The implementation group set up following the independent review of maternity services by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has been given updates from the hospital trusts about the work taking place to consider the steps needed to keep the four consultant-led units and provide women with more choice through the establishment of midwifery-led units.

They also heard headlines following an intensive programme of public engagement during November. Detailed analysis is continuing but the early findings show that most women and families reported a positive experience when using maternity services. When asked what they would like to see in future services, they sent clear messages:
• Continuity of care and carer
• Consistency and quality of information and communication
• Breast feeding support
• Support and information for women to make informed decisions and choices
• Accessible services and choice

The implementation group has been meeting since June and is chaired by Dr David Rogers, medical director of NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). It includes Dr Anthony Falconer a former past president of the RCOG who led the independent review, Cath Broderick, chair of the RCOG Women’s Network, doctors, senior local midwives, representatives from Healthwatch Cumbria and local Maternity Services Liaison Committees (MSLCs) which include women with experience of using maternity services.

The group is developing a detailed feasibility report on the cost, viability and risks of proceeding with Option 1 (the independent review team’s preferred option) in the long term, including the amount of additional commissioned funding required and whether the model can be supported.

Eleanor Hodgson, director for children and families with NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Since early summer a lot of ground has been covered. There has been significant progress by both hospital trusts in responding to the recommendations of the independent review. More work is needed, particularly in North Cumbria where the challenges are greater due to the ongoing recruitment difficulties but we recognise the energy and commitment that exists within both hospital trusts to achieve the best and safest possible maternity services for women into the future.

“We have also been very impressed at the engagement activity. Teams from Healthwatch Cumbria, the MSLCs and NHS organisations did a great job in reaching so many people and, importantly, the level of participation from women, their families and others with an interest in maternity services has been very welcome. Initial headlines from this activity are very interesting and will be helpful to the implementation group. We now look forward to receiving the more detailed analysis in the New Year and would like to reassure people that this feedback report will be made public.”

The public engagement was led by Healthwatch Cumbria, working with the MSLCs and targeted women who have used maternity services in the last five years, their partners, families and birth supporters and those who may become pregnant in the future.

There were 1,234 responses to an online survey and hundreds of conversations across Cumbria and North Lancashire with women and families at drop in sessions and attendances at existing local groups where mums meet with their children.

Sue Stevenson from Healthwatch Cumbria said: “The engagement was embraced with energy and enthusiasm. People had a lot to say and we are now working through the detail of a substantial amount of feedback.
“However, a number of consistent themes emerged from the survey responses and the local discussions which we hope will be helpful to the implementation group.”

The West Cumbria, Carlisle and Eden and Bay Wide MSLCs have played a key role in the engagement. Mel Gard chair of the Bay Wide MSLC which includes Maternity Matters groups in Furness, South Lakes and Lancaster, said: “As service user representatives on the MSLCs it has been valuable and enjoyable to have in depth discussions with such a range of service users about their personal experience of maternity care and we hope the responses they have given to the survey questions will significantly contribute to the service providers’ understanding about what really matters to women and their families at this most precious time of childbirth.”
Responses to the survey came from across North Lancashire and Cumbria with the majority from people living in Copeland and Allerdale.
When asked what a good maternity service would look like, responses included:
• All staff to be well trained medically and socially
• No agency staff
• Continuity of midwife support throughout pregnancy and labour
• All healthcare staff to be respectful of women and their families and to be sensitive to their wishes and needs
• Good communication between staff and their colleagues.

There were strong messages to keep maternity services local and excessive travel was considered to be over 40 minutes. There were also comments about busy wards and lack of facilities, in particular the choice to use a birthing pool.

The work of the implementation group is expected to be completed early 2016. It will feed into Success Regime discussions in West, North and East Cumbria and to Better Care Together in South Cumbria and North Lancashire. It is also taking into account the recommendations following the Morecambe Bay Investigation.

Posted on Friday 18th December 2015


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