Maternity Update (latest 22.4.22)

18 Mar 2022, 7:56 p.m.

During this time when staffing is very challenging due to COVID-19 related sickness, it may be necessary for us to flex our maternity services and redeploy our midwives to alternative locations where they can provide safe, one-to-one care during your labour.

22 April 2022: Update following review (effective from Monday 25 April)

Thanks to an improving staffing situation, we are in the position today to announce a staged approach to re-opening some of our maternity services.

Stroud Maternity will re-open for labour and birth effective from Monday 25 April at 9am as the first step in a phased return of the maternity service changes announced on 5 April.

We are constantly reviewing the position with staffing and hope to be able to make a further announcement regarding Cheltenham Aveta Birth Unit very soon.

For clarity, we’ve provided a summary of the current service offer below.

We recognise the impact and disruption that these temporary changes have had on families and we thank you for your continued patience.

Summary from Monday 25 April:

Stroud Maternity

Open for:

  • Obstetric Clinic
  • Community services
  • Planned Antenatal Care
  • Labour and Birth (effective from Monday 25 April)

Cheltenham Aveta

Open for:

  • Maternity Assessment Unit
  • Planned antenatal care
  • Community services

Closed for:

  • Labour and birth

Home births: will continue to be supported as staffing levels permit.

5 April 2022: response to further staffing challenges

Staffing levels across our Maternity services continue to be extremely challenging and a significant proportion of our midwives are absent due to either COVID-related or non-COVID sickness. With further COVID sickness reported this week, our senior midwifery team have reviewed staffing levels and taken the difficult decisions outlined below:

  • Stroud and Cheltenham Midwife-Led Units will be temporarily closed for labour and birth from Tuesday 5 April at 3pm. All other services at the units, including planned antenatal care, will continue.
  • We will continue to provide planned Home Births, but it is possible that this service may be affected by these staffing challenges; this will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis

This decision will be reviewed on Tuesday 19 April.

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

We appreciate that this uncertainty is very difficult for all the women, birthing people and families that we care for. However, it must be our priority to ensure a safe birthing experience for all service users and to do this, we need to redeploy our midwives to alternative locations to ensure we can continue to provide safe, one-to-one care.

Our maternity team are calling everyone who is likely to be directly affected by these short-term changes today, but please bear with us as this takes time.

We apologise to anyone whose birth choices are affected by these short-term closures but assure you that our dedicated team of midwives and all other maternity staff are committed to providing a positive birth experience which respects your choices.

Summary: 5 April – 19 April

Cheltenham Aveta

Open for:

  • Maternity Assessment Unit
  • Planned antenatal care
  • Community services

Closed for:

  • Labour and birth

Stroud Maternity

Open for:

  • Obstetric Clinic
  • Community services
  • Planned Antenatal Care

Closed for:

  • Labour and birth
    Postnatal inpatient care

Home births: will continue to be supported as staffing levels permit.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Q: I was planning to have my baby at Stroud. What are my choices?

A:Please speak to your named midwife to talk about your options, including the Gloucester Birth Unit, Delivery Suite or home birth

Q: I was booked to have my baby at Cheltenham. What are my choices?
A: Please speak to your named midwife to talk about your options, including the Gloucester Birth Unit, Delivery Suite or home birth

Q: I am booked for a caesarean, is this affected?

A: No, this is not affected because it will be at GRH

Q: I am worried that the reduced number of midwives will affect my birth experience

A: The reason that this decision has been taken is to ensure that everyone can still have safe, one-to-one care in labour. We are committed to providing a positive birthing experience and the safety of you and your baby is our overriding priority.

Q: I live in Stroud/ Cotswold/ Cheltenham and am worried that GRH is too far, what should I do?

A: Please contact the maternity advice line (0300 422 5541) if you feel that you are experiencing signs that labour may have begun. The midwives on the maternity advice line will be able to advise you. You may find it helpful to plan your journey to GRH if you have not visited the site recently. Please speak to your community midwife if you have specific questions

Maternity update: 1 April 2022

While COVID-related sickness among maternity staff remains high, it’s sometimes necessary for us to flex our maternity services and redeploy our midwives to alternative locations to ensure we can continue to provide safe, one-to-one care and provide a positive birth experience, which respects your choices, including your choice of where to have your baby.

Maternity update: 23 March 2022

These decisions are never taken lightly, but our overriding priority is always to ensure that our maternity services remain safe for everyone who uses them. The main Delivery Suite at GRH is not affected by these changes.

  • Gloucester Birth Unit: Further staff sickness means that we were unable to re-open the midwifery-led Gloucester Birth Unit as planned yesterday, but this is being reviewed daily and it will re-open as soon as possible. As before, the phone lines will continue to be manned and people will be guided to choose to either have their baby in the Delivery Suite rooms reserved for this or to access alternative facilities at Stroud Maternity or Cheltenham Aveta.
  • At Stroud Maternity, we continue to encourage early discharge to home, rather than the provision of postnatal beds for this short period. Of course, if a mother or baby requires postnatal care that requires monitoring, this will be accommodated on our Maternity Ward at GRH as usual.

A positive birth experience which respects your choices is important to us, and our team of midwives will continue to work hard to ensure this is achieved. Once again, we apologise if anyone’s planned birth experience may need to change at short notice but hope that everyone will appreciate that our priority remains the safety of all mothers, birthing people, families and their babies.

Maternity short-term changes: 18 March 2022

In response to extreme staffing pressures in Midwifery related to COVID sickness and isolation, we are making some short-term temporary changes to ensure services remain safe, while retaining choice for families. We are very sorry if anyone’s planned birthing experience may need to change at short notice but hope that everyone will appreciate that our priority remains the safety of all mothers, families and their babies.

We have put the following measures in place between now and Tuesday 22 March:

  • Gloucester Birth Unit facilities will be temporarily relocated into main Delivery Suite; the phone lines will continue to be staffed and people will be guided to choose to either have their baby in the Delivery Suite rooms reserved for this or to access alternative facilities at Stroud or Cheltenham Aveta. We will do everything we can to ensure that these temporary Delivery Suite facilities are comparable to those usually provided within the birth unit.
  • Community teams in Gloucester will be running a weekend-type service that concentrates on clinics rather than home visits, although these will be accommodated in special circumstances. This allows our community midwives to come in to support the rest of the service at Gloucester.
  • At Stroud Maternity, we will be encouraging early discharge to home, rather than the provision of postnatal beds for this short period. Of course, if a mother or baby requires postnatal care that requires monitoring, this will be accommodated on our Maternity Ward at GRH as usual.
  • The home birth service is unaffected and will be supported by the unit midwife on call and a Senior Midwife in addition to community midwives.
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