Maternity units in Bucks hospitals ‘under-utilised’

Stoke Mandeville Hospital entrance
Stoke Mandeville Hospital entrance

The number of babies born across Bucks Healthcare NHS Trust hospitals has plateaued, as women are opting to give birth in other areas, according to medical staff.

This week, the Chiltern Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) was updated on ongoing plans to improve maternity services across Bucks in a bid to tackle growing demand.

However Dr Christine Campling said birth rates at BHT have actually stopped increasing, so medical staff are working to encourage women to use local hospitals.

Speaking at the board meeting on June 14, she said: “BHT is finding the birth rate locally has actually gone static, and they are losing some mums to the hospitals that surround BHT.

“Obviously they have concerns over the sustainability of the system, so they are trying to ensure all mums want to go to BHT as their first hospital.”

She added that the midwife-led maternity unit at Wycombe Hospital has been “underutilised”, however women are “constantly” being encouraged to use the service.

The trust has welcomed a range of improvements to maternity services, according to Dr Campling, including better access for women whose first language is not English, by providing interpreters.

There has also been a drive provide better care for pregnant women who are battling anxiety and depression, so specific midwives to help those struggling with mental health issues have been recruited.

The improvements come after a national NHS England review of maternity services, which recommended a number of improvements including providing safer care and better perinatal and post-natal mental health care.

Dr Campling added: “There has been a continuous drive for improvement in safety, in maternal experience and in staff welfare and sustainability.

“There has been a lot of work on finance and capacity, because the population is increasing, births are increasing and our local maternity services are going to have to step up to meet the needs of the future.”

Specialist antenatal clinics have also been introduced in Bucks for women with health conditions, such as diabetes, and a pre-term birth clinic has been launched at Stoke Mandeville in a bid to reduce the number of premature births.