Sir George welcomes resumption of inpatient services at Andover Birth Centre
24 Feb 2010
Sir George has welcomed the resumption of full services at Andover Hospital of the Andover Birth Centre.

“I know there was dismay when babies could not be delivered at the Birth Centre due to staffing problems, ands there were fears that it would never fully re-open. I am delighted that it will now re-open in the spring, and I hope this will be the precursor of yet more services being provided here in Andover”

Below is the press release from Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust


WOMEN in labour will be warmly welcomed to the Andover Birth Centre (ABC) once inpatient services restart this Spring.

Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust’s maternity service was hit by staffing issues last year which resulted in the suspension of the birth and postnatal stay service at the ABC from December. The maternity team, which works across Andover, the community and at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital (RHCH) in Winchester, was experiencing a higher than normal maternity rate itself!

But now, after some improvement in staffing levels and careful planning for a new way of managing births, the centre is looking forward to bringing more babies into the world than before. The date set for resuming deliveries at the ABC is Monday April 26 – from 9am.

Safety is the Trust’s number one guiding principle which is why the inpatient element of services at the ABC was temporarily suspended. Clinics sessions, appointments with midwives and support for home births continued as normal.

During that time, maternity staff - led by midwives at the ABC - developed proposals for a new way of working. The period also enabled a thorough review of training needs and skill levels across the service. In addition, staff began to work more flexibly across the ABC, RHCH and in the community and this is now a key feature of the Trust’s maternity service.

The new ‘model of care’ at the ABC is highly responsive and will provide midwife support for births at the centre and also in the community.

Women who are in labour and want support with a home birth or to have their baby at the centre will need to call the ABC on 01264 352517. They should not arrive at the ABC without calling ahead.

It has always been the case that women in labour were advised to contact the ABC beforehand. The new staffing model makes this a necessity because midwives may not be at the centre 24/7. However, there should always be enough midwives on call to be able to get to the centre or to a home birth. Postnatal women may also be supported by midwives or maternity support workers, depending on clinical need.

Lesley Sharkey, the senior midwife who co-manages the ABC, said: “The new model is all about making the best use of our midwives. They are a skilled resource so we have chosen a way of managing deliveries which makes better use of their time and expertise. Rather than have them at the ABC on the off-chance of being needed for a delivery, they will be working where the women are, whether at Andover, Winchester or in their own homes.”

She added: “The ability to support women in labour is not affected, the staffing model means that midwives should be able to attend home births or the ABC when women need them.”

The Andover community team provide full care for all pregnant and postnatal women in the Andover area. This includes antenatal and postnatal clinics, home visits, home births and birth centre deliveries. They also support consultant obstetric clinics in outpatients and provide parentcraft classes.

Maternity staff will rotate through the service more than they have done in the past and this will provide greater staff development as each aspect is very different. Out of the total births at the Trust (around 3,000), the average number for the ABC is 200 approx and around 140 home births across the whole area.

Staffing levels are better but there are still some midwives on maternity leave or some who have opted to come back but work fewer hours. This is why the inpatient services are not restarting from April 1 as originally hoped.

Despite a national shortage of midwives, the Trust is pleased to have recruited two experienced midwives who will start in May. On top of this, seven new midwives who qualified last year are now ready to work in any area of the service which includes the community and the ABC.

Trust Chief Executive, Martin Wakeley, said: “I am delighted that we have a safe and sustainable solution that has been devised by the staff who run the service. Having a busy maternity service on this site is important to the Trust and to local people. Our commitment to Andover is clear. We have refurbished the endoscopy suite, the birth centre, the minor injuries unit and are just about to unveil a new outpatients department.”


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