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Trust fears pressure from neighbour’s maternity reconfiguration

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University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust has expressed concerns that service changes at a neighbouring trust will put more pressure on its maternity services.

A report presented to the trust’s board this week said there was potential for up to 1,500 more “higher risk” births a year to be delivered at Southampton if proposals by Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust go ahead.

Hampshire Hospitals wants to move obstetric services from Winchester Hospital to a new site north of Winchester.

The board report said this “will almost certainly have ramifications” for Southampton.

“Our midwives and obstetricians have developed a proposal for our future midwifery services”

Mary Edwards

Approximately 6,000 women gave birth using the Southampton trust’s maternity care last year.

Hampshire Hospitals is also considering plans to make Winchester Hospital’s maternity service a midwife-led service. The trust is to consult on its proposals in the autumn.

Southampton’s annual maternity services report said: “Within the Hampshire region significant service change is planned, especially in north Hampshire between Winchester and Basingstoke hospitals.

“This is likely to produce further changes to the number of women who wish to [give] birth in Southampton, and this will need future careful planning and consideration,” it said.

“One of the considerations within the consultation is that Winchester maternity service becomes a midwifery-led service within the Winchester Hospital site and that obstetric services would move to a newly established site north of Winchester,” it added.

“This will almost certainly have ramifications for Southampton maternity services,” stated the board report.

These are listed in the report as:

  • the potential for 1,000-1,500 “higher risk” additional births to migrate to Southampton
  • a “drift” of women from southern areas of Hampshire to opt to have midwifery led births in Winchester
  • affecting capacity at Princess Anne Hospital, run by Southampton

The document also said that last year 54 women were transferred from Southampton to another maternity service provider to give birth due to a lack of capacity in its neonatal service.

In response, Hampshire Hospitals chief executive Mary Edwards said: “Our clinical strategy, designed by our doctors, nurses and other clinical staff, is to deliver local services where possible and central services where it is necessary for the safety of patients.

“As part of this clinical strategy, our midwives and obstetricians have developed a proposal for our future midwifery services,” she said.

“This proposal includes maternity centres offering midwifery-led births on the Basingstoke, Winchester and Andover sites, and a brand new, state of the art, large obstetric unit and homely midwifery unit – known as an alongside midwifery unit,” she added.

Ms Edwards said a consultation on the proposals would take place later this year, which would be led by West Hampshire and North Hampshire clinical commissioning groups.

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