Fears for Honiton maternity ward

PUBLISHED: 09:57 17 February 2010 | UPDATED: 00:56 16 June 2010

P0072-03-07ti Honiton Communtiy Hospital montage.

P0072-03-07ti Honiton Communtiy Hospital montage.

Copyright Archant Ltd

MATERNITY staff at Honiton Community Hospital will find out on Friday what changes will be implemented when the ward is taken over by the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust in April.

MATERNITY staff at Honiton Community Hospital will find out on Friday what changes will be implemented when the ward is taken over by the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust in April.

Sources have told the Midweek Herald that the hospital's role will be downgraded to a birthing unit, with new mums sent home the same day.

If such a change is implemented, it will end Honiton Hospital's long-standing reputation for providing in-patient post-natal care.

"There will be no post-natal care and those having babies at other hospitals will not be able to go back to Honiton to convalesce," one source revealed.

The source added: "Women deserve better. There will be no TLC and people will be sent home."

The future role of the unit will be revealed during a staff meeting on Friday afternoon.

NHS Devon says a change in management of community maternity services will bring improvements for expectant mothers and their families.

Around 500 babies a year are born in community hospitals in east and west Devon, and more than 3,500 at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.

NHS bosses say the proposed change will see more babies born in community hospitals and at home.

A public consultation is to be launched to discuss ways of increasing birth numbers at Honiton Hospital.

Tracey Reeves, Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital's head of midwifery services and deputy director of nursing, said changing management arrangements was good news for mums-to-be.

"Stronger links between midwifery units in Devon will mean a better service for patients," she said.

"Not only are we planning to increase opportunities for women to deliver at their local birthing centre, we also want to increase the number of mums delivering in their own homes.

"The RD&E already shares statutory supervision of midwives in the county and transferring its management to us is the logical progression to further integrate and improve the service in future. Closer co-operation between hospitals will also mean that, in time, staff can rotate between units, further increasing their already excellent skills."

Val Beale, the local supervising authority midwifery officer, says she supports the plans.

"It will enhance the care for women by ensuring a seamless service throughout pregnancy, birth and post-natal periods," she said.

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