The individual experiences of ordinary people should “form the backbone” of the national maternity review, its chair has said.
Baroness Julia Cumberlege was speaking at the Friarage maternity centre, which this week celebrated its first birthday as a midwifery-led unit.
“I want the individual experiences of ordinary people to form the backbone of our review”
She is the independent chair of the current review of maternity services across the country, which began in April and forms part of NHS England’s Five-Year Forward View.
The review was also set up partly as a response to the care failings identified at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.
It will assess current maternity care provision and consider how services should be developed to meet the changing needs of women and babies.
A similar, but separate review into the future shape of maternity care services is also taking place in Scotland.
Baroness Cumberlege said: “We want to make sure that maternity care in England is the best it can be.
“We have to start by listening to women and their families. I want the individual experiences of ordinary people to form the backbone of our review,” she said.
“I also want to hear from all the professionals that work so hard to make maternity services what they are today,” she added.
Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group approved plans in February 2014 to remove consultant cover from maternity services at the Friarage Hospital, which is run by South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
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The move stemmed from genuine concerns around the safety and future sustainability of the services, according to local NHS leaders.
To date around 256 babies have been born at the centre since it became midwifery-led.
The centre’s staff were joined on 6 October by women who have used the service along with their babies to celebrate its progress over the last 12 months.
Deborah Hebblethwaite, a midwife and the maternity centre’s manager, said: “This was a special birthday for us and we wanted to share it with the local community as there are still people who think we’re not here anymore.”