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Constructive conversations held over maternity review

Friday, 11 July, 2014
Constructive conversations held over maternity review

Following the temporary suspension of births and postnatal inpatient care at Berwick Maternity Unit, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has this week held constructive conversations with both its public governors in Berwick and local town councillors.

The Trust, together with commissioners NHS North of Tyne, held the briefings in Berwick on Monday evening to hear some of the key issues and concerns being raised which will be taken into account as part of the review now taking place.

In addition, public research with local women in Berwick is due to start in the next two weeks with on street activity, focus groups and an online survey to ensure everybody who wants to, can have their say.  The Trust has also offered to meet with members of the campaign group in Berwick in the next few weeks.

This week’s meetings were attended by the Trust’s Chief Executive Jim Mackey, Medical Director Mr David Evans and Head of Midwifery Janice McNichol, as well as colleagues from NHS North of Tyne.  

Several key issues were discussed including transport links to the nearest consultant-led units, why many women are choosing to deliver their babies in consultant-led units as opposed to the midwifery-led unit in Berwick, and the current support available for pregnant women in Berwick while the review takes place.  

During the suspension of services, any expectant mothers in Berwick who require medical advice out of hours (on an evening or after 2.30pm at weekends) should call the Trust’s team of midwives in Wansbeck on 01670 564194 – this number is available 24 hours day.

Discussions also took place about the changes in maternity care over the past 30 years and the high clinical and safety standards to which the whole of the NHS must adhere.

Commenting on the meetings, Mr David Evans, Medical Director at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust who has practised as a Consultant Obstetrician for over 30 years looking after pregnant women in labour, said:  “People have a right to expect safe care within their NHS and it is our duty to ensure we are providing this at all times in all of our hospitals, including Berwick.  

“We have welcomed this opportunity to meet with our public governors in Berwick and with members of the town council to explain our safety concerns relating to the maternity unit at Berwick and why we had to take the quick decision to suspend services pending a review. 

“We want to ensure that the views of local people in Berwick are fed into the review that is now taking place and independent research will soon start in the town for this very purpose.  We’ve also offered to meet with members of the campaign group to make sure we also address their concerns.

“All of the feedback we receive will be included as part of the overall review and shared publicly once the review concludes which is expected to be towards the end of October.”

As soon as a start date is agreed for the public research, it will be shared publicly so that all those who wish to have a say have the opportunity to do so. 

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