Maternity services update: 18 October 2022

18 Oct 2022, 1 p.m.

Latest on staffing challenges and the impact on maternity services at Stroud Maternity and Cheltenham Aveta

There are no plans to close Stroud Maternity Unit and I wanted to reiterate our long-term commitment to the future of services in Stroud. We are incredibly proud of the work that our colleagues do in maternity and we wanted to thank them for their ongoing commitment and dedication.

Chief Executive, Deborah Lee

Despite making significant progress over the summer in recruiting new midwives, with 14 new starters this month and a range of targeted initiatives from our dedicated midwifery recruitment team, staffing remains very challenging due to a combination of COVID-19-related sickness, other sickness absence and an ongoing national shortage of midwives.

This means that we need to deploy our midwives to where they can provide safe, one-to-one care during their labour and birth.

Our senior management team in maternity, all of whom have many years of experience caring for women and families, sometimes have to make difficult decisions to redeploy our dedicated midwives to ensure that everyone, no matter where they choose to have their baby, continues to receive 1:1 care during their labour and birth.

All our services at the Gloucester Birth Unit and the Central Delivery Suite, both in the Women’s Centre at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital (GRH), are unaffected by these temporary changes.

Stroud Maternity

  • In response to the staffing challenges set out above, we have taken the difficult decision to suspend the provision of postnatal beds at Stroud Maternity to ensure that we can maintain the Stroud birthing service and continue to provide 1-1 care in labour at all times - this decision will be reviewed weekly.
  • Postnatal care for those families in Stroud continues to be available in the first 6-12 hours post-birth in the Stroud Maternity Unit birthing rooms or a similar room nearby, after which we encourage early discharge to home once the appropriate checks have been completed. If a mother or baby born at Stroud needs postnatal care that requires in hospital monitoring, this will be accommodated on our Maternity Ward at GRH as usual.
  • The community midwifery service in Stroud remains unchanged. Women are offered home visits or the opportunity to attend a postnatal clinic run by midwives in the postnatal period.

Cheltenham Aveta Midwife-Led Unit

  • In line with our commitment to review the temporary closure of the Aveta Birth Unit in Autumn, we have taken the decision to continue this closure for a further three months with a commitment to review in January 2023.
  • All other services at the unit, including planned antenatal care, continue to be provided.

Home births

We continue to offer planned home births but there may be rare occasions when it is not safe to do so due to staffing challenges and this is reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Frequently asked questions

Q&As about Stroud

Q: Is Stroud Maternity going to close?

No, there are no plans to close Stroud Maternity

Q: Postnatal care for 6-12 hours following birth seems low, is it enough?

Midwife-led birth units like Stroud, the Gloucester Birth Unit and Cheltenham Aveta specialise in low-risk births, for which is is normal for people to be discharged back home as soon as they and their baby have undergone the appropriate checks and observations. This varies according to the time of day and the family's preferences.

Q: What about people who have had Caesarean births?

Anyone who has had a Caesarean birth or a birth experience requiring greater intervention will have had their baby at our main obstetric unit at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. They can expect to stay on our Maternity Ward for 1-3 days or until they are cleared to return home.

Q: Are the postnatal beds at Stroud used by people who have had their baby elsewhere?

Yes they are, the postnatal beds are a much-loved facility that is unique to Stroud. Although a relatively small number of people choose to use this facility (in terms of the 6,000 births each year at our hospitals), we recognise that it provides extra care and support at a pivotal time in families' lives.

Q: What about postnatal care when the postnatal beds are closed?

Postnatal care may be in the form of home visits, at a clinic in Stroud Maternity or a local community base such as Cirencester. This is following a conversation with the midwife in the first 24 hours following the birth of their baby, and is tailored to meet individual needs.

Q&As about Cheltenham Aveta

Q: Will Cheltenham Aveta be re-opening?

Yes it will, we're committed to the long-term future of maternity services in Cheltenham

Q: Do I still attend my antenatal appointments at Cheltenham?

Yes, Aveta is still open for planned antenatal care and you should continue to attend your appointments