Changes to children and maternity services at South Tyneside District Hospital - What you need to know

Hospital bosses are reminding people in South Tyneside that emergency care for children and maternity services are is changing from next week.

By Tom Patterson
Wednesday, 31 July, 2019, 16:30
South Tyneside District Hospital

What are the changes to childrens services and when do they happen?

From Monday, August 5, the children’s emergency department at South Tyneside District Hospital will operate from 8am to 10pm and overnight emergency care for children up to the age of 16 will be provided from the Children’s Emergency Department at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

There are no changes to adult emergency care services which will continue to operate 24/7.

Dr Shaz Wahid

Health chiefs say the new model means that children from South Tyneside who need emergency hospital treatment during the night will now have access to specialist consultant-led emergency paediatric care – something severe staffing issues at South Tyneside District Hospital have prevented for many years.

What are the changes to maternity services?

The changes to children’s emergency care will take place alongside the opening of a new midwifery-led birthing centre at South Tyneside District Hospital from 9am on Monday.

The centre will offer more choice on where to give birth for women in South Tyneside and Sunderland.

Women who have a low-risk pregnancy, which is problem free will now have the option of giving birth:

*At home

*The new midwifery-led birthing centre at South Tyneside District Hospital

*Under midwifery-led care at Sunderland Royal Hospital, which is within the consultant-led maternity unit

*At another maternity unit of their choice in the region.

Women who have a high risk pregnancy will be advised to give birth in the Trust’s consultant-led unit at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

The majority of all antenatal and postnatal care will continue to be provided as now.

Below, Dr Shaz Wahid, medical director at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Trust answers some frequently asked questions about the changes:

Why is the children’s emergency department at South Tyneside District Hospital closing overnight?

These important changes are necessary to ensure that South Tyneside children are seen by the right healthcare professional 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This will affect a very small number of children, but will mean that they will now have equal access to specialist paediatric doctors 24/7 which is something that we have struggled to provide consistently in South Tyneside over many years.

What happens if my child is still in the department at 10pm and has not been seen?

We have robust arrangements in place to ensure that any children in the emergency department at 10pm will be safely cared for.

Can I not just take my child to the adult emergency department after 10pm?

No. You should call 111 for urgent medical advice, go directly to the Children’s Emergency Department at Sunderland Royal Hospital or, if it’s an emergency call 999.

What should I do if my child is ill after 10pm?

For all minor illnesses and injuries that cannot be treated at home, you should call 111 to speak to a trained medical professional or visit the NHS 111 website (www.111.nhs.uk).

If you think it is a serious or life-threatening emergency call 999 or take your child to the Children’s Emergency Department at Sunderland Royal Hospital, or another local Children’s Emergency Department if it is closer.

Is the children’s day unit at South Tyneside District Hospital closing?

No. The changes only affect the children’s emergency department between 10pm and 8am. All planned outpatient care for children will continue to take place as usual at our children’s day unit and from Palmers Community Hospital.

Will there be enough ambulances?

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Yes. We have had detailed discussions with the North East Ambulance Service. These changes will only affect a very small number of children and preparations are in place to cope with this.

What do the changes to maternity services mean for local pregnant women?

The changes will offer more choice to women in South Tyneside and Sunderland who are considering where to have their baby. Women with low risk, problem free pregnancies will have the option to have a home birth, deliver at the midwifery-led birthing centre at South Tyneside District Hospital, deliver at the maternity unit at Sunderland Royal Hospital or deliver at another local maternity unit of their choice.

Is it safe to have my baby at a midwifery-led birthing centre?

Yes. For women with low risk, uncomplicated pregnancies it is just as safe to give birth in a midwifery-led unit as it is to give birth in a consultant-led maternity unit.

Research also shows that women who deliver under midwifery-led care experience higher satisfaction, less medical intervention and better success with breastfeeding.

Can all women choose to have their baby in the new midwifery-led birthing centre?

No. If you have a high risk pregnancy, for example if your baby is in a breech position, if you are expecting twins, or if you have high blood pressure then we would recommend delivery within our consultant-led maternity unit at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Will I still have all my antenatal appointments and postnatal care locally?

Yes. Regardless of whether you live in South Tyneside or Sunderland, the majority of all antenatal appointments and postnatal care will still take place locally just as they do now.

This includes, for example, appointments with your midwife at your GP surgery, appointments at hospital for a scan, or planned outpatient appointments at hospital with a consultant for women with high-risk pregnancies.

Can I come and visit the new midwifery-led birthing centre?Yes. For the first two weeks after opening you can drop in and visit the centre between 11pm-2pm. Following that we will run tours every Saturday at 1.30pm. You can call the centre on 0191 4041033 for more information.

What time is the new birthing centre open?

Our new midwifery-led birthing centre in South Tyneside will be open 24 hours a day,seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Will midwives be there 24/7?

Yes, the midwifery-led birthing centre will always be staffed by trained midwives no matter what time of the day or night it is.

They will be supported by healthcare assistants and have direct links 24/7 via telephone to consultant obstetricians based at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Can my partner stay overnight in the birthing centre?

Yes. Our birthing rooms are all en-suite and have facilities for people to stay overnight.

How long will I stay in the centre once I have given birth?

We expect most families will choose to go home within 12 to 24 hours. We will provide all of the support you need to help you bond with your baby and get ready for home life before you are discharged from hospital.

Can I have a water birth in the new centre?

Yes. We have an en-suite pool room available and you should discuss this with your midwife.

Will the same midwives look after me throughout my pregnancy?

Our aim is to offer a truly personalised service and maximise the opportunity for the same midwife to look after you throughout your pregnancy, providing continuity of care during labour and after the birth of your child.

Will all gynaecology appointments move to Sunderland Royal?

No. All women’s healthcare (gynaecology) will be delivered as it is now in South Tyneside other than for women requiring an overnight hospital stay, which is a very small number.