Major recruitment drive to reopen Cossham Birth Centre as soon as possible

Thursday, 31 January 2019

North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT) is looking to attract more midwives and obstetricians following significant investment to ensure all its maternity services remain world class and sustainable for the future.

NBT made the decision today to continue with the temporary, partial closure of Cossham Birth Centre until September whilst more midwives are recruited to adequately staff all of NBT’s maternity services, all of the time.

Prospective midwives will be able to come and meet the team and learn more about the vacancies at an open day at Southmead Hospital on Saturday.

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

“Despite recruiting many more midwives over the past few months, we still want to recruit more to adequately staff all of our maternity services all of the time.

“North Bristol Trust is a fantastic place to work with world class services, and based on recent recruitment events we know we can continue to attract and welcome high quality midwives, so that we can re-open Cossham Birth Centre as soon as possible.

“We will also use this time to ensure both our birth centres and the home birth service are sustainable for the long term and we can give women the best possible continuity of carer throughout.”

Since October, women have been offered the option of giving birth at the midwife-led Mendip Birth Centre or the consultant-led birth unit, both at Southmead Hospital, or at home. This has enabled the midwives at Cossham Birth Centre to support the maternity services at Southmead, where there has been an unprecedented demand for induction of labour, coinciding with a number of staff vacancies, to ensure women received high quality maternity care.

To address these challenges, NBT has introduced six extra maternity beds and is recruiting 24 new midwives (made up of eight existing vacancies and 16 additional roles), and three additional consultant obstetricians.

The NBT Board had hoped to reopen Cossham Birth Centre at the end of February. However, while 16 new midwives have been appointed in the past three months, the equivalent of eight full time midwives have also moved on during this time as part of natural turnover. So even when all the newly-appointed midwives are in place this would still leave at least 16 posts unfilled.

Also most of the new midwives starting in the coming weeks are newly-qualified. This means they will need a longer orientation and induction programme before they can work independently.

Over the next few months NBT will continue to hold midwife recruitment events to be able to re-open Cossham as soon as possible. The three new obstetrician jobs will be advertised in the coming weeks, with interim locums already found.

Clinical leaders will also take the opportunity to review the overall staffing model for both birth centres, which currently have separate teams. This will aim to give staff and women the confidence that all services are being run as sustainably and flexibly as possible. It will also aim to give pregnant women more continuity with the midwives responsible for coordinating their pregnancy, birth and postnatal care.

All pregnant women under the care of NBT will continue to have the option of a midwifery-led birth environment at Mendip Birth Centre, at Southmead, which has three birthing suites, each with a pool.

The Home birth service continues to be available on a case by case basis. All community antenatal and postnatal clinics at Cossham Birth Centre are unaffected and running as normal.

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