WE are writing to you to express our support for the East Sussex Healthcare Trust’s recent decision to consolidate maternity services onto the Conquest Hospital site at Hastings as an interim safety measure.
We are senior midwives within the trust. All of us have at least 15 years experience working as clinical midwives in a variety of settings for example community and in hospital. We know as midwives how important it is for women to have good midwifery support in labour and appropriate timely medical care if complications arise.
The two maternity units are very small and offer limited experience to doctors who are training to be the next generation of consultants. Consequently, it is very difficult to employ the right doctors and we often have had to rely on agency ‘locum’ doctors who are unknown to us. This makes effective team working very difficult.
Furthermore, the lack of appropriate numbers of doctors has led to midwives having to undertake some tasks that mean there is less time for the midwife to be with women in labour. Women need the support of midwives at this time. We know from our own clinical practice and from research that women have much better outcomes if they are supported properly in labour by a midwife.
We have worked hard with our medical colleagues to continue providing the best care we can. We have made many changes to our practice to improve care and to keep local services safe. We cannot continue to keep making changes in an effort to prop up a service that is no longer sustainable in its present state.
We have to take this step to move to one site. We know that for some women this change will be difficult but we want to tell them that we believe this is the right thing to do.
These changes are not being made by managers and they are not driven by finances.
These changes have been suggested by us and our medical colleagues because we know that we can offer a better and sustainable service by working on one site. Please be assured our sole interest has been and always will be about the provision of a high quality midwifery service.
LINDSEY STEVENS, consultant head of midwifery
JENNY CROWE, deputy head of midwifery
CHRIS COWLING, midwifery clinical services manger
CATHY O’CALLAGHAN, midwifery clinical services manger
ANNE WATT, divisional clinical governance manager
GAYLE CLARKE, specialist midwife practice development