August 20, 2008

Birth Units Have Three Years to Attract Numbers


MIDWIFE-LED birthing units at two Scottish hospitals have three years to attract sufficient numbers of mothers-to-be following a U- turn by health officials.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde yesterday formally voted to retain services at Inverclyde Hospital in Greenock and Vale of Leven Hospital in Dunbartonshire.

The U-turn came after a review of the original decision to close the services and a campaign and petition which attracted 4000 signatures.

The health board agreed to keep services for at least three years with a public information drive to encourage more women to use the local units instead of consultant-led services in Paisley. A target of 25per cent of births has been set to secure the long-term future of the units.

Currently only 30per cent of women choose to give birth in the Community Midwifery Unit (CMU) and only 11per cent are able to, due to clinical considerations, with one-third transferred to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley during labour.

However, the number of births increased by 25per cent and 14per cent at Inverclyde and Vale of Leven respectively and the board hopes this will continue A report to the board stated: "If we were to remove the birthing facilities from the Vale and IRH at this stage then it is difficult to envisage them being repatriated back to the hospitals in the short or medium term.

"It is therefore recommended that we retain the units for three years to allow us to determine whether a combination of currently increasing activity, greater local understanding and acceptance, increased demand from women to undertake subsequent pregnancies in the local CMU and potential improvements in underlying health status of the community translates to increased numbers of births."

Politicians and local health representatives welcomed the news.

Elinor Smith, chair of Inverclyde Community Health Partnership, said: "I had a great sense of the grieving in Inverclyde. The community felt they had not been consulted sufficiently.

"This has proved we have gone out to consultation and we have listened. That is important as we as a board need to restore trust."

Originally published by Newsquest Media Group.

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