Cossham Birth Centre temporary closure extended

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Cossham Birth Centre will continue to temporarily divert women in labour to the midwife-led unit at Southmead Hospital for up to four months, North Bristol NHS Trust has decided.

This decision has been taken because of an unprecedented high number of women needing induction of labour at Southmead Maternity Unit. Combined with staff vacancies, it has required us to maximise our midwifery workforce on one site to maintain the safety of all women and babies in our care.

To solve this problem, six extra maternity beds have already been opened at Southmead and extra midwives are now being recruited.

The temporary closure began on 5th October and North Bristol NHS Trust’s Board has decided today to extend it until the end of February 2019, once enough extra staff are in place. However, if enough staff can start earlier in a sustainable way, the date to reopen Cossham Birth Centre will be brought forward.

North Bristol NHS Trust has an average of 6,300 births a year, which includes approximately 350 births at Cossham Birth Centre and approximately 700 births at Mendip Birth Centre at Southmead Hospital. Because of this temporary closure, all women due to give birth at Cossham Birth Centre over the temporary closure period will be formally notified.

All calls to Cossham Birth Centre from women in labour are being diverted to Mendip Birth Centre. Cossham Birth Centre midwives have temporarily joined the Mendip Birth Centre team, and women booked with the preference to deliver at Cossham will continue to have the option of a midwifery-led birth environment at Mendip Birth Centre, which has three birthing suites, each with a pool.

Home birth services will continue to be available on a case by case basis. All community antenatal and postnatal clinics at Cossham are unaffected and running as normal.

Interim Director of Nursing at North Bristol NHS Trust, Helen Blanchard, said: “Recent national changes to the way the NHS cares for women with identified risks during pregnancy have increased demand for complex and specialist care.

“To ensure we can run the safest maternity service possible, we have taken the difficult decision to extend the temporary closure of Cossham Birth Centre until the additional midwives we are recruiting are in place.

“However, if enough staff can start earlier, the date to reopen Cossham Birth Centre will be brought forward.

“We recognise that any changes to a woman’s pre-planned maternity care, and the choice they have made about where to have their baby, can be disappointing.

“However, our absolute priority must be the overall safety of all women and babies in our care.”

Due to the introduction of a new national maternity policy to reduce stillbirths, North Bristol NHS Trust’s obstetric services have been extremely busy in recent months. Like many other maternity units across the country, this policy has led to a significant increase in women being medically induced, requiring more complex and specialist care.

To ease the pressure, on 1st October six more maternity beds were opened at our Southmead site. We are currently in the process of recruiting additional midwives, including filling current vacancies, which will lead to a total increase in our permanent midwifery workforce of 24 full time midwives.

North Bristol NHS Trust has among the best neonatal outcomes in the country.

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