These are the changes being made to maternity care in South Tyneside as health bosses say pregnant women will have more choice
A new midwifery-led birthing centre will open at South Tyneside District Hospital as health bosses says it will offer more choice on where to give birth for women.
The changes to maternity services will be introduced by South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust following an extensive public consultation carried out in 2017.
The new model of maternity care will come into operation from 9am on Monday, August 5, with the opening of a new midwifery-led birthing centre in South Shields.
All other aspects of planned local maternity services will stay the same, with pregnant women continuing to access the majority of antenatal and postnatal care locally, just as they do now, including all planned hospital appointments and community care.
The changes mean that women who have a low risk pregnancy which is problem-free will have the option of: giving birth at home; at 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; or giving birth at another maternity unit of their choice in the region.
For women whose pregnancy is high risk, for example if they are expecting twins, if their baby is in the breech position, or if they have experienced complications, they will be advised to give birth in the trust’s consultant-led maternity unit at Sunderland Royal Hospital.
The unit is rated among the best in the NHS, according to the latest Care Quality Commission survey.
All women who are currently booked to deliver their babies during July and August across South Tyneside and Sunderland are being contacted personally so that early conversations can take place with their community midwife to discuss their birthing options.
Sheila Ford, head of midwifery at the trust, said: “Over the past year our midwives have been busy visiting other midwifery-led units across the NHS to make sure we learn from the very best and we all feel very passionately about making our new birthing centre in South Tyneside a success.
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“Giving birth under midwifery-led care is just as safe as giving birth under consultant-led care for those women with low risk pregnancies and we are excited to be able to offer something different to our local population and ultimately give local women more choice.”
The new birthing centre at the hospital, in Harton Lane, will provide a relaxing ‘home from home’ birthing experience for women with low risk pregnancies.
It will be run by highly-experienced midwives for families who are keen to have a natural birth with minimum intervention.
They will provide one-to-one personalised care to help parents to bond with their baby in those first few, precious hours.
Both the new centre and the consultant-led maternity unit at Sunderland Royal Hospital offer en-suite birthing rooms with facilities for partners to stay overnight and flexible visiting times for families.
Pregnant women who would like to find out more about the changes should talk to their community midwife or call 0191 404 1033 for the birthing centre in South Tyneside 0191 569 9777 for the consultant-led maternity unit in Sunderland.
The trust is working closely with all health and care partners to ensure a smooth transition to the new maternity care model in the summer.