Maternity is not safe - say hospital consultants

We, the Obstetricians and Gynaecologists at the Trust, who are responsible for leading the care and safety of the higher risk maternity patients, would like to state that the maternity services at the Trust in its current configuration are not sustainable on safety grounds.

We believe that a single site for the consultant led element of obstetric care is a safer option.

Our safety concerns have been on the Trust risk register for many years and have been the subject of much debate. A number of measures have been taken to keep the service as safe as possible. However lately the situation has become significantly worse and despite multiple initiatives being put in place to address these risks, the safety concerns continue.

These measures are becoming increasingly complex to manage and therefore unsustainable. We cannot continue as we are.

The key factors influencing the quality and safety of our service are:

• The lack of suitable doctors to fill medical posts means an over reliance on temporary and agency staff.

• The increasing requirement to take immediate, unplanned action to address staffing shortfalls, thus employing temporary staff at short notice who are unlikely to be familiar with the environment, policy and procedures of the unit and may not operate to the required level of competency.

• Staff with the required competencies are not available 24/7 meaning an increased requirement for supervision which can lead to a compensatory reduction in the quality of elective services.

• Significant increase in the complexity of maternity cases being seen.

• Shortage of senior clinical midwives leading to problems with leadership on the maternity wards.

Despite all our attempts to maintain the service the situation has now become unsustainable and we fully endorse the findings of the recent external report by the National Clinical Advisory Team.

We would like to reassure the local people that our sole interest is maintaining the safety of women and babies in East Sussex.

Mr Jamal Zaidi MD FRCOG Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist and Divisional Director, Mr Dexter Pascall FRCOG Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist and Clinical Unit Lead, Mr Barry Auld FRCOG Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Mr David Chui FRCOG Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Mr Aoun Hakmi MRCOG Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Mr Mark Malak PhD FRCOG Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Miss Mini Nair MRCOG Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Miss Nicole Roberts MRCOG Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Miss Prabha Sinha MRCPI FRCOG Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Mr Waleed Yousef MRCOG Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust.