Campaign group Stroud Maternity Matters has responded to the statement issued today by Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust over the future of Stroud Maternity Unit (SMU).
The group’s letter to the Trust states:
“Thanks for finally sending out the updates the service users have been hoping for since October. It was clearly never going to be something that would be possible to fix on a weekly timeframe.
I am able to make myself available for the on-line meeting. I look forward to looking into possible solutions for the closed beds at SMU. Please may I pose some questions and observations that are arising from the stakeholders most recently?
These are raw and unfiltered quotes from service users and midwives, reflecting the type of concerns that come into our in-box at Stroud Maternity Matters. These questions may or may not match your impression of how services are being managed and we welcome clarity and reassurances.
‘The turnover of staff at SMU means that the beds will never be reinstated. More surplus managerial staff have been appointed, even though we have been losing community midwives at a rate that will not be able to be improved by the ’14 new recruits’. The trickle down from recruitment will never reach Stroud.’
‘The type of recruiting that is being done is putting greater strain on existing midwives as they now have to do their job and also train/induct new staff. Could there not be support put in place to enable this transition to be smoother and less of a strain on those already in post? We need to stem the tide of departing staff.’
‘We users don’t think there is a conspiracy from the decision makers at Trust that they want to close the beds. We think it will happen by ‘accident’ through mothballing and centralising services to such an extent that the prior structure (eg Post-Natal beds) seems extraneous and therefore not necessary to reinstate. Please keep flagging up that they are valuable and could be made ever more valuable to a wider community reach with investment.’
‘Unless there is a Stroud specific recruitment drive of midwives who do not immediately get reallocated over to GRH the beds will only temporarily re-open and re-close. This will ultimately be even more disruptive to the community. What can be done to make the beds viable going forward? The finance is seemingly just not there to back up the Trust’s reassurances. When the beds are opened they should be opened in a way that ensures they are not a temporary measure.’
‘Does the Trust have the stats to reassure us that the Birth Units and the beds are valued and valuable? Do they perform well? Are the transfer rates good and cost-worthy? If not, won’t the decision to close them go above the Head of Midwifery or the CEO?’
‘Can the CQC requirement for a fully trained midwife on the SMU Post-Natal ward be challenged? This seems to go against common sense as much of the time the care offered there is of a low grade of medical intervention, previously delivered by an MCA. Is it not the case that CQC are treating the birth unit as a hospital ward when it is actually not in need of the same type of staffing as a PN ward at GRH? If the one-to-one birth ratio effectively necessitates two-three midwives on site, rather than the one-two that has previously been the case, how will we ever achieve that level of staffing back in Stroud? Isn’t it overly optimistic to say that the beds will re-open at all unless there is a major shift in the regulations or the structure of how the wards work?’
‘Please may we explore the extent to which ambulance wait times are contributing to more women being encouraged to go directly to hospital, rather than local Birth Units, resulting in the number of births in the units declining’
It would be wonderful to be able to respond to these fears with the facts you have at your disposal. Please do adjust your sense of the Post-Natal beds as a ‘much loved’ service.
The beds are an essential service that reduce pressure on other aspects of the NHS and ensure lowered complications for women and children in the district. Thanks to all who are actively working to maintain, fund and refresh the service at SMU,
Kate Buckingham, Chair of Stroud Maternity Matters, on behalf of our concerned members.”