‘Maternity services are overstretched’

MATERNITY services in north Essex are understaffed and overstretched, it is claimed.

A study by the Royal College of Midwives found more full-time midwives were needed across the region to cope with increasing birth rates.

Staffing levels in the East of England were highlighted as the worst in the country.

Only one hospital in the region, West Suffolk, in Bury St Edmunds, is meeting NHS targets of one midwife to 30 patients.

In north-east Essex, there are 33 women to every midwife.

In Chelmsford, that level is even higher with 35 patients to every midwife and 36 to every midwife in Ipswich.

The study said the region needed to increase staffing levels by 41 per cent.

If not, it warned, women would be denied home births, units could close and breastfeeding rates would not improve.

Pat Gould, regional manager of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “It is deeply worrying the region remains so short of midwives with the birthrate increasing at such a rate.

“It is also not just about numbers. Births are also becoming increasingly complex, putting even more demands on maternity services.

“Without some serious attention and investment. I have real fears services in the East of England will be struggling to cope with the demands.”

Colchester’s hospital trust, which runs midwifery services at Colchester General Hospital and at community hospitals in Clacton, Harwich and Halstead, has recruited 132 midwives.

The trust said it was discussing plans with primary care trust NHS North Essex to recruit more, but despite not hitting the target ratio, it still had some of the region’s highest staffing levels.

A spokesman said: “The trust accepts, when compared with the gold standard, we need to recruit additional staff.

“However, we are confident our midwifery services are safe and of a high standard.”

Comments (1)

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12:49pm Sat 17 Sep 11

kli__g says...

Overstretched isn't the word! I had my baby at colchester last saturday and when i got to the delivery suite i was advised to go home as they might need the room, even though there was no one else there at the time, I refused as having my second baby and knowing how I was feeling at the time I knew that it couldn't possibly be long and that I felt safer at the hospital and then after an hour and a half official labour my daughter was born at 1.30am, I requested to come straight home but we ended up spending more time stuck waiting to be discharged as the nurses were unable to complete the discharge forms and let us go as another lady had come in and was delivering and they just didn't have the staff to be able to check me and my baby and discharge us while another woman was in labour / delivering? We didn't leave the hospital until 6.30-7am so i spent more time waiting around than i did in labour!? How is that enough staff / adequate care?? There's a population of 113,077 in colchester as at 17th september 2011 that need to be catered for, thats not to mention all the other women that are transferred from surrounding areas etc. How can any maternity department offer full care for that kind of population and not be able to have 2 women birthing at the same time?? Think I'll do it on my own at home next time! Thankfully the outpatient / aftercare and support is far better than the delivery care!!!
Definitely need more midwive's and better services, after all this is a growing town and we are seeing huge developments building up yet we still don't have the infrastructure to cater for the new lives coming into or being born into our town.
Overstretched isn't the word! I had my baby at colchester last saturday and when i got to the delivery suite i was advised to go home as they might need the room, even though there was no one else there at the time, I refused as having my second baby and knowing how I was feeling at the time I knew that it couldn't possibly be long and that I felt safer at the hospital and then after an hour and a half official labour my daughter was born at 1.30am, I requested to come straight home but we ended up spending more time stuck waiting to be discharged as the nurses were unable to complete the discharge forms and let us go as another lady had come in and was delivering and they just didn't have the staff to be able to check me and my baby and discharge us while another woman was in labour / delivering? We didn't leave the hospital until 6.30-7am so i spent more time waiting around than i did in labour!? How is that enough staff / adequate care?? There's a population of 113,077 in colchester as at 17th september 2011 that need to be catered for, thats not to mention all the other women that are transferred from surrounding areas etc. How can any maternity department offer full care for that kind of population and not be able to have 2 women birthing at the same time?? Think I'll do it on my own at home next time! Thankfully the outpatient / aftercare and support is far better than the delivery care!!! Definitely need more midwive's and better services, after all this is a growing town and we are seeing huge developments building up yet we still don't have the infrastructure to cater for the new lives coming into or being born into our town. kli__g

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