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Shortage of midwives leads to temporary transfer of service for women planning to give birth at Wycombe Birth Centre

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Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust has announced the temporary transfer of service for women planning to give birth at Wycombe Birth Centre.

As a result of an unanticipated number of midwife vacancies across its maternity services the trust has taken a number of measures in order to maintain a safe and high standard of care and choice for expectant mothers.

Following a thorough staffing review and risk assessment by the Trust’s women and children’s division, it is therefore planned that, from Monday 25th July 2016 to Monday 31st October 2016, all women who had been considering giving birth at Wycombe Birth Centre at Wycombe Hospital, currently around twenty a month, will be offered other alternatives.

This is a temporary measure for three months to allow the Trust time to recruit new midwives and to enable some staff from the Birth Centre to be deployed to cover unfilled shifts across other parts of the service. Antenatal and outpatient postnatal care, which receives around 700 visits from mothers and babies every month, will continue to be provided at Wycombe Birth Centre.

The Trust’s maternity team have worked hard to be able to continue to offer a service which is in line with current national recommendations regarding choice of place birth options.

All women who are currently considering their birth options or had planned to give birth at Wycombe Birth Centre will continue to be fully supported by their community midwives to discuss their birthing preferences.

They will be offered a range of alternatives including home birth, Aylesbury Birth Centre, which offers the same maternity-led service as Wycombe, and the consultant-led labour ward at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

Says Carolyn Morrice, chief nurse at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust: ‘Following a full risk assessment of staffing levels, we decided that offering alternative options for the women considering giving birth at Wycombe Birth Centre was the safest and least disruptive option in order to maintain a full range of birthing choices and to continue to offer the high standards of quality and safe care for all the women we support in giving birth.

This was a difficult decision to make and we recognise that it will be very disappointing for women who may have been considering Wycombe Birth Centre for their delivery during the next three months, and for this we are very sorry. Our team has done everything possible to keep disruption to an absolute minimum. We are confident that with new recruits due to start in October, Wycombe Birth Centre will be able to re-start offering care to women giving birth from 1 November.

Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust provides a range of maternity services across the county, including antenatal clinics, community midwifery, home birth service, midwifery-led birthing units (in both Wycombe and Aylesbury) and a consultant-led labour ward (in Aylesbury). The service provides care for over 5,500 women and babies every year.

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