Mothers in Berwick are being asked to give their views on how the new model of maternity care which came into operation last summer is working.
NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the organisation responsible for planning and choosing local health services, is evaluating the new arrangements.
The new model of care saw the opening times for Berwick maternity unit change to 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 2.30pm at weekends, with an on-call service for low-risk women who wish to deliver at the unit or at home.
Antenatal and postnatal clinics for low and high-risk women are also provided along with enhanced community midwifery support, for those who need it.
Births had been stopped in summer 2012 after safety concerns were raised but deliveries were reinstated on July 1 2013 and since then 11 births have taken place.
Dr Alistair Blair, chief clinical officer of NHS Northumberland CCG, said that one of the promises the CCG had made on the conclusion of the public consultation was to look at how the new model of care was working after a few months.
He said: “The general feeling is that the new model of care is working well in Berwick, however, we are mindful of what we heard from local people during the consultation and it is right that we carry out an evaluation. This way we can gain assurance on how the service is working for local women and that it is safe and sustainable.
“We are really pleased that low-risk women are choosing to have their baby at Berwick, with 11 safe births since July. We know how important this issue has been locally and we hope that people will feel we have addressed some of their concerns from the consultation.
“It is really important that we do what we can to preserve rural services and we continue to work very closely with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust now and in the future.”
Dr Blair continued: “I would urge any mothers or fathers with recent experiences of maternity services in Berwick to let us know their thoughts to help us evaluate how things are working. I look forward to seeing the outcome of this evaluation and reporting its findings publicly.”
Janice McNichol, head of midwifery at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The arrangements which were put in place last summer are working well and we are delighted that women are choosing to have their babies in Berwick and are benefitting from the personal, one-to-one care we provide at the unit.
“We welcome Northumberland CCG’s evaluation of the service and would encourage local people who have used the service to give their feedback.”
Women from Berwick who have given birth since July 1 last year, along with women who are due to have a baby in 2014, are being asked to take part in the survey. It asks about the experiences of care, including deliveries at the unit, at home or other maternity units and also considers activity levels, safety and quality.