Group recommends two more months of talks to find a way forward for maternity services

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The GP-led Group which commissions health services locally will on Wednesday consider how maternity services in Crowborough and the High Weald can be improved.

Crowborough-Hospital-signsFor sometime there has been concern by the public and members of the medical profession about how women are cared for locally during childbirth.  The number of births at the midwife-led Crowborough Birthing Centre has been declining; there have been a number of temporary closures of the unit because of staffing difficulties elsewhere in the Trust; and ultrasound scans at Crowborough Hospital were stopped in 2010.

Evidence shows giving birth in a midwife-led unit instead of a traditional labour ward is a safer option.  One of the issues has been how the Crowborough Birthing Centre fits seamlessly into the wider NHS in relation to antenatal appointments, scans, and blood tests.

The Crowborough Birthing Centre is currently run by East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (ESHT), but if there are complications during birth, the nearest consultant-led Birthing-Centre-Logounit at Pembury Hospital, is run by a different Trust.

There have been calls by some campaign groups for responsibility for the Crowborough Birthing Unit to transfer to the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust.

Scans at Crowborough Birthing Centre ceased in 2010, after ESHT’s radiology department found that the outdated scan machine no longer complied with required standards.  Although a replacement machine was subsequently purchased using funds provided by Crowborough League of Friends, ESHT remained unable to reinstate scanning in Crowborough due to difficulties with providing a sonographer.  Despite continuing difficulties with recruitment, ESHT have said scans could start again in Crowborough but they will need ‘pump-priming’ from the Clinical Commissioning Group.

In October 2014 the East Sussex Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee recommended a urgent review of maternity services.  Now the working group, chaired by Dr David Roche, a GP from Wadhurst, is proposing talks should continue for just two more months in view of management changes at the two NHS Trusts.   A final report will go to the Clinical Commissioning Group in November 2015.

The meeting of the CCG on Wednesday 23rd September 2015 in Lewes is open to the public (the discussion about maternity services should take place at around 3.25pm).  More information can be found on their website: www.highwealdleweshavensccg.nhs.uk.

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