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Public voice will be heard during review at Berwick

Friday, 11 July, 2014
Public voice will be heard during review at Berwick

Following the temporary closure for births and post natal inpatient care at Berwick Maternity Unit last month, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and NHS North of Tyne have today reassured the public that they will have an opportunity to have their voice heard.

Services were temporarily suspended from 1 August due to serious safety concerns as a result of some recent safety incidents.  This is linked to the lack of births taking place at the unit and the lack of opportunity for midwives to practise their regular birthing skills.

As part of the review now taking place, the Trust and commissioners are keen to understand the care that Berwick women are looking for at all stages of their pregnancy to help better plan services for the future.

Our commissioners NHS North of Tyne have asked an independent company to carry out research over the next month and will be talking to around 200 local women of child bearing age – mothers and future mothers – about the maternity services they would like to see.

This will start mid September and complete by mid October, the independent research will ensure that the women taking part are representative sample of the overall local population in Berwick. 

Research activity will take place ‘on street’ in busy locations, such as Berwick market place, as well as at local mother and toddler groups including Sure Start centres and other venues where mothers meet with their children.  A short online survey will also be available for the many others who wish to have their say.

Dr Mike Guy, Medical Director at NHS North of Tyne said: “As commissioners of health services we support Northumbria Healthcare’s decision to suspend deliveries and post natal inpatient care at Berwick pending a review.  We must make sure that services available for the people we serve are safe and of the highest quality and when concerns are raised they cannot be ignored.

“We recognise that lots of women wish to have their babies in a unit as close to home as possible, but we also know that for many this is not possible due to clinical reasons and national standards to which the NHS must adhere. 

“In Berwick and the surrounding area many women are choosing to have their babies at Wansbeck, Newcastle or Borders and we need to understand what was important to them when they made these decisions. We also want to hear from local women about what other care is important to them at the different stages of pregnancy, including after the baby is born.”

Mr David Evans, Medical Director at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust added: “We know that the decision to suspend services in Berwick has caused concern locally but people have a right to expect safe care within their NHS services and it is our duty to ensure we are providing this at all times in all of our hospitals, including Berwick.  We really do hope people can appreciate that we simply cannot take any risks where safety is concerned. 

“We pride ourselves on setting the highest possible safety standards and are one of only seven hospital trusts across England to achieve the highest possible safety rating for our maternity care.  We also care about our midwives and all of the mothers and babies in our care which is why we could not ignore our safety concerns.

“We are very pleased that this research will be taking place over the next month so that we can better understand both the views and concerns of women in Berwick about their maternity care.  The results of this will be incorporate into the final review.”

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.  Results of the research activity and feedback will also be shared publicly as part of the overall review which is due to conclude at the end of October.”