In your paper under the headline ‘Appeal for babies born on A259’ [March 31] the Save the DGH campaign group was asking local people to come forward with information. I would like to point out that we are happy to provide this information and have regularly done so to the campaign group or through Freedom of Information requests to whoever asked.
Between January to March 2017, two babies were born before the arrival of a midwife to women who live in the Eastbourne area. Both had intended to deliver at Brighton but their babies were born safely at home.
In the same period there was one woman, on transfer from Eastbourne Midwifery Unit to Conquest Hospital by ambulance, who safely gave birth with a midwife in attendance. This was a clinical decision to transfer for the safety of the mother and baby which is normal practice if there are any concerns with a women’s labour on the Eastbourne Midwifery Unit.
Our data shows that the rate of babies born before arrival of a midwife is no higher for Eastbourne women than it is for Hastings women. The key factor in this is not the journey to the Conquest but the recognition and reaction to signs of early labour by the woman concerned.
We wish to encourage more women who meet the low-risk criteria to choose to give birth at the Eastbourne Midwifery Unit. The unit, run by midwives, offers a comfortable, relaxed and low-tech environment for women to give birth, which so many find provides a positive birthing experience. Women with high risk pregnancies or with complications during pregnancy will need to attend the obstetric unit at Conquest for their labour.
The unit is one element of a wide range of maternity services available at Eastbourne DGH.
DR ADRIAN BULL
Chief Executive, East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust