Cossham Birth Centre to reopen

Friday, 26 July 2019

Babies will be born at Cossham Birth Centre again from the autumn. 

A temporary closure of Cossham Birth Centre has been in place since October 2018 due to increasing inductions of labour at Southmead Hospital and a shortage of midwives.

A major recruitment drive has been met with a very positive response and this means that by the autumn sufficient experienced midwives will be available to re-open Cossham Birth Centre under an “open on arrival” model, as well as the associated homebirth service from 21 October 2019.

The basis of this proposal is that the existing homebirth staffing rota would provide low risk women assessed as suitable the opportunity to either birth at Cossham or at home i.e. the choice of one or the other. If a Cossham birth was appropriate the midwife would meet the woman at the birth centre. After the birth (at the agreed time post-delivery), the mum and baby would return home and the midwives in the homebirth team would then ensure it is ready for the next birth.

In reality, the birth centre is operational in the daytime anyway for community midwifery clinics. However, the birth centre would be closed during the night unless a birth is taking place as no other midwifery services run overnight.

Under this model, which applies at day or night, if the home birth team are occupied with a birth then other mothers in labour would be offered Mendip Birth Centre as an alternative. Conversations about this model and possible suitable alternatives will have been discussed early on in their pregnancy.

Clinical leaders are continuing with a review into how the Trust’s birth centre, community, integrated and homebirth teams can best work together and continue to provide a high quality, sustainable service.

It will also give pregnant women more continuity with the midwives responsible for coordinating their pregnancy, birth and postnatal care.

For the forthcoming reopening period starting on 21 October, decisions on birthplace will have to be made on a case by case basis, subject to availability and eligibility.

North Bristol NHS Trust Director of Nursing and Quality, Helen Blanchard, said:

“We’ve always been committed to reopening Cossham Birth Centre and we’re looking forward to offering, where we can, women the option of choosing to have their baby there.

“We’re sorry some women haven’t been able to give birth there these past few months but this has always been about putting all of our services on a safe and sustainable footing for the long term.”