Residents of north and mid-Hampshire are being asked to have their say on the way maternity services are delivered across the area as part of the Hampshire Together programme.
The ‘Hampshire Together: Modernising our Hospitals and Health Services’ programme involves NHS and social care providers across Winchester, Alton, Andover, Basingstoke, Eastleigh and the surrounding areas. It is being led by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Partnership of Clinical Commissioning Groups, Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and West Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group.
The programme includes the construction of a brand new hospital – but the programme’s impact will reach far beyond the walls of this new building, involving GPs, mental health, community care, social care and the wider voluntary sector,as well as acute hospital care.
As part of the Hampshire Together programme, people across north and mid Hampshire are currently being asked for their views on the way health services are provided in the area now and in the future.
Recently, the focus has been on maternity services, which are currently provided at all three of the hospitals operated by Hampshire Hospitals, as well as in the community. Full maternity units staffed by midwives and doctors, with facilities available for surgery such as caesarean sections and neonatal care, are available at both Royal Hampshire County Hospital, in Winchester and Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital. There is a midwifery-led birthing centre at Andover War Memorial Hospital.
Women can also choose to give birth at home and many appointments during pregnancy take place in community settings such as GP practices and community hubs. Midwives also provide home visits to families in the days after a baby is born.
This current system provides a number of challenges, solutions to which will need to be found as part of the Hampshire Together programme.
Miss Avideah Nejad, consultant obstetrician and clinical director of women’s health at Hampshire Hospitals, said: “We are proud of the services we offer to women and families, but we believe there may be an opportunity to do better if we could reconfigure the way services are managed.
“We would like to offer women in our care a full range of choices, including midwifery-led birthing units alongside the maternity units at Basingstoke and Winchester. All three sites have accommodation that present challenges for the modern requirements of a maternity service and the current facilities do not allow us to progress our ambitions of being a service of excellence with a consistent range of birthplace choices for women.
“Managing and sustaining two fairly small units presents challenges in prioritising care for women with the greatest need. Developing specialist skills and delivering obstetric clinics for women with higher risk factors such as diabetes and multiple births is not always straightforward because of the way the service is set up.
“Our neonatal units have similar problems and there is a very real threat that we will no longer be able to provide for the more complex aspects of care for women and their babies unless we do something differently.
“We are still in the process of thinking about what the alternatives to the current system might be as part of the Hampshire Together programme – and we really want to hear from families who have used our services recently to learn about their experiences and listen to what they would like us to be able to do differently.”
More information about Hampshire Together and an online comment form can be found at www.hampshiretogether.nhs.uk. You can also find Hampshire Together on Twitter (www.twitter.com/HampshireMOHHS) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/hampshiretogether).