Midwifery head backs maternity plans

The consultant head of midwifery at the DGH has backed the decision to see Eastbourne become a midwifery-led maternity unit, saying she believed it was ‘absolutely the right thing to do’.

Lindsey Stevens, who has been a midwife for 23 years and is head of the service for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, spoke to the Herald after NHS bosses voted in favour of services such as neo-natal service and consultant-led obstretric services being based at the Conquest in Hastings.

She said, “We are reconfiguring our services because of the sustainability of safety.

“We keep our services as safe as we possibly can but we can make it safer by going on one site.

“At the moment we’re having to plug the gaps with locum doctors who don’t always know us and our guidelines and it doesn’t make for good team work.”

Mrs Stevens said she would like to reassure pregnant women that the changes were safe adding, “What we have found from research is that stand-alone midwifery-led units across the nation are very safe.”

She also said that while they were concerns from people travelling for 40 minutes to get to Hastings that there were people in the wider area of Eastbourne that already travel more than 20 minutes to get to the DGH.

Referring to Liz Walke’s fears that the changes could eventually lead to the removal of all maternity services at the DGH she said, “As a midwife I couldn’t disagree more.

“Look at how Crowborough is a midwifery-led unit and how successful it is.

“It’s important to know that women can still come for ante-natal clinics at the DGH and we’re not asking people to travel elsewhere for ante-natal appointments.

“It’s about consolidating services and to offer the best care and that may mean some people travelling further to receive better care.”

Mrs Stevens added, “It’s very rare for things to suddenly go wrong.

“We can see when things are starting to go off the normal pathway, it’s usually hours before the point of delivery.

“As soon as that happens in a midwifery-led unit then the woman would be transferred.”

She said she was 100 per cent behind the plans adding, “I absolutely believe this is the right thing to do.

“The reason we are doing this is by placing our services in one area we offer better in labour care than we can offer on two sites.

“There’s midwives, doctors and nurses with a whole wealth of experience.

“We are the ones who are saying we can do this better.

“Every midwife I have spoken to without exception is supportive of the changes.

“Anyone with concerns can talk to their community midwife and obstetrician if they want advice about where the best place is to give birth.”