Berwick is being asked to give its views on future arrangements for the town’s midwifery services.
NHS North of Tyne, which is responsible for commissioning health services in Berwick, is eager to hear from local people, in particular young mothers and future mothers, about how local maternity services can be provided safely.
Two public meetings are also being held at The Maltings, on Wednesday, January 30 at 1.30pm and Wednesday, March 6 at 6.30pm.
For more information visit the NHS North of Tyne website
This consultation, which began on December 11 last year and will continue until March 19, is part of the process set out in the NHS Act (2006) which requires NHS commissioners to involve people in the planning, development and consideration of proposals for changes in health services.
The consultation process is expected to focus on the proposals for midwifery-led care that were put forward in a safety review report by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in November.
Dr Mike Guy, medical director of NHS North of Tyne, said: “We hope that as many people as possible will come along to the public meetings and give their views. We recognise how important it is for people in Berwick to have services as close to home as possible but it is important that the services we commission for them are safe and sustainable.”
He added that all possible steps were being taken to ensure people in Berwick and the surrounding areas, particularly the women who will be using maternity services in the future, have the opportunity to comment during the consultation.
Dr Alistair Blair, chief clinical officer (designate) for NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group, which from April 1 2013 will take over responsibility for commissioning the majority of healthcare services in the county, added: “We are very keen to hear the views of as many people as possible about the two different options that are being proposed – and if you are supporting or disagreeing with either option then to say why.
The first option detailed in the safety review was to restart services for both deliveries and inpatient care as they were before the temporary suspension. This would include all antenatal care for both low risk and high risk women, hospital and community deliveries for low risk women, 24/7 inpatient postnatal care and community midwifery services. This would need the recruitment of additional midwives to allow regular rotation, to ensure clinical skills are maintained.
The second option is to provide a 24/7 ‘on call’ midwifery-led service which would mean low risk women could give birth in Berwick, either in a birthing room or at home. Women could return home six hours after giving birth and there would be enhanced community midwifery support for women at home. All existing hospital and community antenatal care would also continue.
During the consultation period NHS North of Tyne, along with Northumbria Healthcare, will attend meetings of local groups such as Berwick Town Council.
Further independent research is being carried out, targeting mothers and future mothers, as well as an on-line questionnaire that local people who wish to make their views known are encouraged to complete the onlinde survey. Comments can also be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org or sent by post to: Freepost Plus RRYY-HGHX-TESR, NHS North of Tyne, Berwick Maternity Consultation, 1 Esh Plaza, Sir Bobby Robson Way, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE13 9BA. Alternatively people can ring 0191 217 2599 with their comments.
All comments must be made by March 19 2013. They will be included in a report to the NHS North of Tyne board which meets in public on March 26.