Maternity services consultation begins

Berwick Maternity Unit

Berwick Maternity Unit

Have your say

LOCAL people can give their views on future arrangements for midwifery-led services in Berwick in a statutory public consultation taking place over the next 14 weeks.

Between now and March 19, NHS North of Tyne, the body responsible for commissioning health services, will be talking to local people – and in particular young mothers and future mothers – about how local maternity services can be provided safely.


For more information visit the NHS North of Tyne website

The survey is available online


Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust suspended deliveries and inpatient stays at Berwick Maternity Unit in August following two serious incidents which highlighted concerns about the low number of births taking place at the unit – 13 babies over the previous year - which meant the midwives didn’t have the opportunity to practise their full range of clinical skills.

A subsequent safety review made two proposals. Option one would see the resumption of 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 and 24/7 inpatient postnatal care and community midwifery services. This option would need the recruitment of additional midwives to allow regular rotation to ensure clinical skills are maintained and for the unit to remain open 24/7.

Option two would 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.

These options are covered in more detail including their pros and cons, the background to the decision to temporarily suspend births, national guidance, information on quality standards and what local people have already said on the issues, in a statutory consultation document NHS North of Tyne has published.

This document is available from various community venues around Berwick, including at the offices of the Berwick Advertiser, as well as on-line at

Dr Mike Guy, medical director of NHS North of Tyne, said: “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.

“This period of public consultation will provide an opportunity for a public discussion about the options included by Northumbria Healthcare in its safety review. We will take all possible steps to make sure that people living 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, added: “We look forward to working with the local community over the next three months to understand how going forward maternity services in Berwick can best meet the needs of the local community but in doing so we must ensure high levels of clinical safety.”

During the consultation period NHS North of Tyne will be holding public meetings and, along with Northumbria Healthcare, will attend meetings of local groups such as Berwick Town Council.

The public meetings will take place on: Wednesday, January 30 at 1.30pm and Wednesday, March 6 at 6.30pm at The Maltings.

Further independent research will be 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.

Dr Guy said: “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.”


For more information visit the NHS North of Tyne website

The survey is available online

Comments can also be emailed to:

Or write to: Freepost Plus RRYY-HGHX-TESR, NHS North of Tyne, Berwick aternity Consultation, 1 Esh Plaza, Sir Bobby Robson Way, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE13 9BA.

Or phone with their comments: 0191 217 2599.

All comments must be made by March 19. They will all be taken into consideration and included in a report to the NHS North of Tyne board which meets in public on March 26.

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