‘Off-putting’ BMU letter taken out of circulation
PREGNANT women who are considering giving birth at Berwick Maternity Unit will no longer be sent a “discouraging” letter.
That’s the assurance from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, following exposure of the letter at last week’s public consultation meeting to discuss the future of midwifery led care in Berwick.
The document, headed simply ‘Berwick Maternity Unit’, reads: “If you chose to deliver your baby at Berwick Maternity Unit, you must be aware of the following facts,” and warns, “It is recognised that a first time mother has a 30 per cent chance of being transferred to a consultant unit from a midwifery led unit in labour.”
It adds: “If you should require medical intervention during your pregnancy or labour, the transfer time to a consultant unit is approximately two hours. This time takes into consideration journey time and waiting for an ambulance.”
Questioning why so few women chose to give birth at the Berwick Unit between 2011-12, Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith raised concerns about the letter, which he described as “off-putting” and “very discouraging”.
Confusion ensued when Sir Alan read out exerts from the letter - which a number of women said they had received - with all NHS representatives present denying knowledge of it. Janice McNichol, head of midwifery at Northumbria NHS Trust, said she was “stunned” by the letter, and told the meeting: “I have never, ever seen that piece of paper.”
But it has since emerged that the letter had been distributed from Berwick Maternity Unit.
A spokeswoman for Northumbria NHS Foundation Trust told The Advertiser this week: “The letter which was discussed at last week’s public meeting has not been produced as part of a Trust guideline. There are very strict rules which govern the production of any patient information materials which always need to carry the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust logo, a version number and a clear review date.
“We have therefore asked our midwives in Berwick to stop using this form with immediate effect.”
She added: “We would never want to discourage any women from delivering in any of our midwifery-led units provided we felt it was a safe option for mum and baby.
“As soon as the consultation on Berwick Maternity Unit is complete we will be doing everything we can to encourage and support as many local women as possible to safely deliver their babies in Berwick.”
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Weather for Berwick-Upon-Tweed
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 17 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 8 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 9 mph
Wind direction: North east