Dr Simon Opher, chair of the Stroud Locality NHS (and Labour’s prospective Parliamentary candidate), revealed some good news about provision at Stroud Maternity Hospital.
“There is finally a glimmer of good news about Stroud Maternity Hospital. Although the postnatal beds remain closed, there has been an impressive increase in births at the hospital which can only help the unit to fully open soon.
“The last few months has seen a very noticeable increase in births at Stroud. Our fabulous local midwives have been working hard with impressive results.”
However, he warned that this increase is not entirely good news for mothers in Gloucestershire.
“The central delivery suite at Gloucester Royal Hospital has been forced to close for much of the month for low-risk deliveries, due to extremely low levels of midwives, and mothers have had to be transferred to Stroud, even if they had planned to give birth in Gloucester.
“However the service they have received here has been excellent. This increased in intra partum care has raised hopes that the whole unit may be able to fully open sometime in the near future.”
“The crisis in Maternity care has been brought about by the chronic lack of midwives. Not enough midwives have been trained in the last 10 years in England. The retention of midwives locally has also been poor. This is a story that recurs throughout the NHS, where morale is at an all-time low.
“All of us campaigning to fully reopen Stroud Maternity should be heartened by the increased births. We are planning to meet with senior clinical staff in October to explore innovative ways we can manage postnatal care and get the beds open. We hope that the significant recruitment of newly trained midwives will make a difference, but we need to improve retention rates. Even though we have 29 new staff lined up to start work the unit will still be understaffed. Such is the depth of our staffing crisis.”
“We are also hampered by some of the staffing requirements that the care quality commission have stipulated. The CQC insist that all postnatal beds must have two midwives available for their care. Where this isn’t possible, mothers and babies are sent home, just 6 hours after giving birth. It seems ridiculous that Mothers and babies are sent home to fend for themselves, on the grounds of safety. We must change these rules.
“That said, I’m sure through co-operation with the hospital trust, we can get the SMH fully open again. We feel this has now come a step closer.”