How maternity and women’s health services may change across South Tyneside

The consultation for South Tyneside and Sunderland hospital services started today.
The consultation for South Tyneside and Sunderland hospital services started today.
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These are the options for maternity and women’s health services in South Tyneside, following the announcement of a consultation process affecting services at the borough’s hospital, and Sunderland Royal.

Option one:

From South Tyneside, run a free-standing midwife-led unit for low risk births, antenatal and post-natal care, including dating scans, pregnancy assessment unit and community midwifery, gynaecology day case surgery and maternity outpatients clinics.

From Sunderland, run a consultant-led maternity unit for high risk births, alongside midwife-led care, antenatal and post-natal care, including dating scans, pregnancy assessment unit and community midwifery, special care baby unit and neonatal intensive care, gynaecology and day case surgery and maternity and gynaecology outpatient clinics.

Impact: Women with a low risk pregnancy would have four birthing choices (home birth, free-standing midwifery-led unit (MLU), alongside MLU, consultant-led unit).

All women with higher-risk pregnancies would give birth at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Approximately 320 women from South Tyneside would give birth at the free- standing MLU at South Tyneside each year .

Approximately 460 women from South Tyneside with high-risk pregnancies would give birth at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

A further 520 may choose to give birth at Gateshead or Newcastle.

£1.13 million savings would be achieved.

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Option two:

From South Tyneside, run antenatal and post-natal care, including dating scans, pregnancy assessment unit and community midwifery, gynaecology day case surgery and maternity outpatients clinics.

From Sunderland, run a consultant-led maternity unit for high risk births, alongside midwife led care, antenatal and post-natal care, including dating scans, pregnancy assessment unit and community midwifery, special care baby unit and neonatal intensive care, gynaecology and day case surgery and maternity and gynaecology outpatient clinics.

Impact:

Women with a low risk pregnancy would have three birthing choices (home birth, alongside MLU and consultant-led unit)

Home birth would remain a choice for low-risk women in South Tyneside.

All women with higher-risk pregnancies would give birth at Sunderland Royal Hospital

Around 780 South Tyneside women would give birth at Sunderland Royal Hospital and 520 may choose to give birth at Gateshead or Newcastle each year.

An investment of around £300,000 would be needed to increase space.

£1.16million savings would be achieved.

Impact of both options:

Women from Sunderland and parts of County Durham could choose to continue to give birth at Sunderland Royal Hospital

Antenatal and out of hospital postnatal care would take place locally.

Dating scans and consultation appointments would be available at both hospitals.

A single special care baby unit at Sunderland Royal Hospital would continue to serve South Tyneside and Sunderland communities.

All gynaecology care requiring an overnight stay would take place at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Around 400 women from South Tyneside would receive gynaecology care at Sunderland Royal Hospital with approximately 240 women receiving care at Gateshead or Newcastle.

Routine day case gynaecology surgery would be available at both hospitals.

Visitors from South Tyneside would experience additional travel to Sunderland Royal Hospital or Gateshead.

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Women from both South Tyneside and Sunderland have access and maternity and gynaecology at both sites, with 1,300 babies born at STDH and 3,200 in Sunderland.

The trust has looked at recommendations from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologist (RCOG) and looked at what can be done locally to deliver the National Maternity Strategy, Better Births.

It says combining resources across the area will help it ensure services are safe and fit for the future.

The review is looking at labour, delivery, and hospital-based post-natal recovery and support and the special care baby unit, as well as admission for women’s healthcare if further investigations and surgery is needed and for planned in-patient surgery.

It says it is challenged by a shortage of senior doctors, with decision makers split between the sites, an over-reliance on temporary staff, hitting national standards, staffing levels in its baby care unit can limit how many babies can be care for locally.

It says this means it cannot offer people the birth experience they want and increases the risks to women.

It states: “While we work hard to manage the safety of the service day-to-day, we need to make changes now, to ensure a better safer service for every single patient in the longer term.”

It has already held discussions with staff and NHS partners and gathered information from those who have used the services to draw up options.

It says doing nothing is not an option because it needs to deal with staffing shortages, with problems recruiting specialist trainees a national problem.

The two options drafted up would still see scans and consultation appointments, as well as routine day case surgery, at both hospitals.

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