Proposal to transform local maternity services is approved

The joint Governing Bodies of Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (BSW CCGs) today approved a proposal to improve and modernise maternity services across the region.
Woman who has just given birth looking at her newborn baby
"These proposals will help us provide more choices for birth to more women"
— Sarah Merritt, Acting Deputy Director of Nursing and Midwifery at the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust

The decision follows a three-year period of engagement and consultation with more than 4,000 mums, families, staff and partners in the community to develop a new vision for maternity services, proposals for change and final recommendations.

The proposal was developed to better meet the needs and choices of women and families across the whole of Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire. These changes will mean more equal access to choice for women about where to have their babies, a more effective use of resources, a better supported homebirth service and enhanced antenatal and postnatal care.

Sarah Merritt, Acting Deputy Director of Nursing and Midwifery at the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust said: 

"These proposals will help us provide more choices for birth to more women and will build a strong foundation on which to enhance continuity of care so that more women can see the same midwife or small team of midwives before, during and after labour.

“The addition of Alongside Midwifery Units at the Royal United Hospital in Bath and at Salisbury Hospital will give our birthing mums a new option for labour and delivery, significantly enhancing choices in Salisbury in particular. Our midwives and staff are excited to embrace this new way of working in purpose built facilities.”

The BSW CCG Governing Bodies approved the proposal to:

  • Create an Alongside Midwifery Unit at Salisbury Hospital Foundation Trust.
  • Create an Alongside Midwifery Unit at the Royal United Hospital in Bath.
  • Continue to support births in two, not four Freestanding Midwifery Units. This would mean births ceasing in Trowbridge and Paulton with antenatal and postnatal care continuing.
  • Enhance current provision of antenatal and postnatal care.
  • Improve and better promote home birth services.
  • Replace the five community postnatal beds in Paulton and the four community postnatal beds in Chippenham with support closer to, or in women’s homes. This will be phased with four beds remaining in Chippenham for up to 12 months to support co-creation of new pathways.
“We are very grateful to everyone who gave their time and expertise over the last three years as this proposal was developed and refined. From mums and dads who use the services to clinical experts and local organisations – everyone has helped to steer a path through the complexities of service change."
—  Dr Ruth Grabham, Medical Director for Bath and North East Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group and Governing Body member

“We know that in both Paulton and Trowbridge there were strong feelings in support of women continuing to be able to give birth in the existing Free Standing Midwifery Units and some people will be disappointed by today’s decision. However this proposal was approved to help us better meet the needs and choices of women and families across the whole of Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire.

"As a result of feedback we have delayed the closure of four of the community postnatal beds to allow more time to work with mums, families and staff to co-design a new community postnatal offer that will meet the needs of local people. The feedback, for example around breastfeeding and mental health support, will also be used to help shape our future maternity services.”

While services will be changing, it is important to note that approval of the proposal will not result in the closure of any buildings or reductions in budget and staffing for maternity services. Maternity services will remain available at all four FMUs antenatal and postnatal care will continue to be provided at these sites.

Chaya Tagore, Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP) Lead and one of the members of the Expert Panel that reviewed the consultation results and developed the final recommendations said: 

“It’s really important that all women across Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire have easy access to maternity services and this proposal means more choice to more women about where to have their baby. I encourage expectant parents and those who have used maternity services in the last
five years to get involved with the MVP.

“The next steps as new community hubs are developed, where women can access integrated care from pre-conception to postnatal care are wonderful opportunities for co-creation. As MVP Volunteers we are really excited about enhanced support for home births and ongoing care.”

We will continue to share information on the Transforming Maternity Services Together website www.transformingmaternity.org.uk. This will include proposed
timeframes for changes to services. To get involved in the next phase of co-producing services please email maternity.transformationBSW@nhs.net.

All the papers from today’s Governing Bodies meeting, along with supporting reports and documents are available on the Transforming Maternity Services website.

Do you want to share your experiences of using maternity services in Bath and North East Somerset? Speak to Pat, Vanessa or Alex to share your story.

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