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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Northern Trust’s transformation of maternity services ‘safe and sustainable’

Antrim Area Hospital Maternity Services

The Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCT) has published a six month review of the transformation of its acute maternity services, following the introduction of the new model last summer.

 

The reconfiguration of maternity services, which came into effect in July 2023, saw all hospital births within the Northern Trust area move to Antrim Area Hospital, with Causeway Hospital continuing to provide antenatal and postnatal care at its maternity hub.

 



The six month review looked at the period from 17 July 2023 to 18 January 2024.

 

Published today, the review concludes:


“Following assessment of the risks of the previous maternity services model over two sites in comparison to the new consolidated model, the clinical, managerial and Executive Team in the Northern Trust are assured that the transition to the new maternity services model has proceeded as planned, and the resultant service is a safe and sustainable one.”

 



Chief Executive Jennifer Welsh thanked staff for their support in making the new model a success.

 

She said: “Providing the highest standard of care to women and babies has always been, and remains, our priority. Change is not always easy and we recognise this was a very emotive issue, not just for our local community, but also for our staff; and they have been hugely instrumental in making this transition a success. I would like to thank our maternity teams for their support and professionalism throughout this process.”

 

Ms Welsh added: “The reconfiguration of our maternity services represented a significant milestone in the transformation of health and social care, not just within the Northern Trust, but at a regional level. This six month review gives us reassurance that making these changes in a carefully planned and managed way has created a safe and sustainable model to build upon.

 



“I am pleased that the transition to consolidate hospital births on one site has been done safely and effectively. That being said, we acknowledge that some further enhancement of the environment within our maternity ward is needed, and we are committed to progressing those improvements, taking on board feedback from women and their families we’ve received over the last six months.”

 

Within the timeframe of the six month review, 25 stories relating to maternity care have been shared via Care Opinion – an online platform for service user feedback.

 

While the majority of stories recounted a very positive experience, some comments touched on issues around a perceived lack of staff, space and privacy, and not enough practical and emotional support for first time mothers.

 



Commenting on the feedback, Ms Welsh said: “We know from our interim two-month review of the new model that there was some feedback on how the service could be improved, and that feedback has been extremely valuable in helping us to refine processes, and informing planned developments and service improvements.

 

“I’m pleased that we have already put measures in place to address some of the concerns raised; we’ve addressed some of the issues around levels of footfall by making changes to how we manage planned and unscheduled care within the maternity ward, and our new intake of 22 midwifes has bolstered our team, and further enhanced the level of care and support offered to women.”

 

Planning is also underway for a new-build three-bed Alongside Midwifery-Led Unit (AMU) at Antrim Area Hospital, to be completed by the end of next year, in advance of a new Women and Children’s Unit being built.

 



Ms Welsh said: “The addition of an alongside midwifery-led unit will give women more choice around their maternity care pathways, and create equity across the entire region, offering women the choice of midwife-led care alongside the obstetric and consultant-led services which are already in place at Antrim’s maternity unit.”

 

A copy of the six month review of the transformation of acute maternity services is available on the Trust’s website: https://www.northerntrust.hscni.net/about-the-trust/corporate-information/corporate-reports/transformation-of-acute-maternity-services-six-month-review/

 

Comments or feedback about the Trust’s maternity services can be submitted online via the Care Opinion platform www.careopinion.org.uk

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