A RADICAL new vision for the NHS could ensure more births take place in Redditch in future than under current plans to downgrade maternity services.
Simon Stevens, head of NHS England, has set out his five year vision of how the service will meet the challenge of dealing with growing demand while filling a £30billion funding shortfall.
The plan outlines a number of options covering primary care and A&E as well as a new way of delivering maternity services which could have implications for the Alexandra Hospital.
Mr Stevens has commissioned a review of future models for maternity units which will report next summer and will make recommendations on how best to sustain and develop maternity services.
There will also be a drive to increase the amount of care delivered in midwife-led units with midwives being urged to group together and provide such services themselves.
Research suggests only a quarter of women want to give birth in a consultant-led unit in hospital but in reality 85 per cent of them do, despite evidence showing for low risk pregnancies babies born in MLUs or at home do just as well as those delivered in CLUs.
As part of the Worcestershire reconfiguration plan an MLU could be created at the Alex which would cater for between 200 to 300 low risk births, with an enhanced home birth service.
However it has been suggested Mr Stevens’ plan could result in MLUs being able to deal with a much greater number of births.
As a result Dr Jonathan Wells, chair of Redditch and Bromsgrove Clinical Commissioning Group, has asked for the Worcestershire reconfiguration plan to be included as part of Mr Stevens’ review with the option of using it as an example case.
“The centralisation of consultant-led maternity is going on apace across the country because it is the right thing to do for quality and safety and that part of the acute services review in Worcestershire won’t be affected,” he told the Standard.
“But the evidence is growing that actually a far higher proportion of births could be managed by midwives so the 200 to 300 figure could be significantly greater than that.
“The Stevens review is going to give advice on that and talk about how we can enable midwives to give that sort of care so we can reduce the number of women that have to be seen in a consultant-led unit. That’s something I certainly welcome.”