HSC will not restart home births support

MIDWIFE-SUPPORTED home births will not be restarted as it would not be the best use of resources, Health & Social Care vice-president Tina Bury has said.

HSC vice president Deputy Tina Bury. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 30570442)
HSC vice president Deputy Tina Bury. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 30570442)

Home births were formally suspended due to Covid-19 in June 2021, but none have actually been carried out since March 2020 due to the pandemic.

HSC has now confirmed it would be focusing staff at the Loveridge Ward at the Princess Elizabeth Hospital.

Deputy Bury said it had been a difficult decision.

‘Everyone involved in the delivery of maternity services, from staff to the committee, would like to be in a position where we could re-introduce midwife-supported home births,’ she said.

‘But we are responsible for ensuring that the maternity service is adequately staffed so that it can provide safe, high-quality, care to all women throughout their pregnancy, labour and the postnatal period. The midwifery team is small and it was simply not sustainable or safe in the long-term to provide the kind of on-call cover needed to support home births.

‘We have to focus our limited resources where they are of greatest benefit to the significant majority of women who choose to give birth on Loveridge Ward.’

There have been 15 planned homebirths in the last five years.

National guidelines means there needs to be five midwives available to help with births on Loveridge Ward, day and night, and they cannot then travel to home births without reducing ward capacity. That means a separate on call rota was needed for home births, with staff on-call 24 hours a day, for up to five weeks at a time.

Midwifery and paediatrics associate director Annabel Nicholas said HSC would like to be able to offer the service, but parents could be reassured that every effort would be made to meet their wishes in a hospital environment.

‘We have tried really hard in recent years to improve the delivery suite area on Loveridge Ward so that it feels more homely, for example delivery rooms have been refurbished and birthing pools are available,’ she said.

‘We continue to work hard to develop and improve services that are personal and based on the needs and wishes of women and their families in the Bailiwick.’

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