Dumfries & Galloway Health & Social Care

IJB committee considers report on Wigtownshire maternity services

A REPORT on the future of maternity services in Wigtownshire was considered on Thursday by a sub-committee of the region’s Integration Joint Board.

Head of Midwifery Laura Boyce said: “I’m very pleased that the report has been presented to this sub-committee of the IJB setting out options for the future of maternity services in Wigtownshire.

“I’d like to express my sincere thanks to the two independent chairs, NHS Ayrshire and Arran Medical Director Crawford McGuffie and NHS Ayrshire and Arran Executive Nurse Director Jennifer Wilson, and for the support provided by professional midwifery expert Angela Cunningham.”

The local service review of maternity services in Wigtownshire was launched on January 18 under independent expert chairs, seeking views from stakeholders to help inform approaches.

On Thursday, Dumfries and Galloway Integration Joint Board’s (IJB) Transformation and Innovation/Futures Committee met with the purpose of considering and discussing the findings in the report and the next steps in moving towards a sustainable approach – to be taken on through the full IJB.

The report set out the work which had taken place to review maternity services and engage with the voice of our local communities, families who had experience of maternity services in Wigtownshire, as well as wider staff groups.

This review was undertaken in the context of the temporary suspension of low-risk, intrapartum maternity services at Galloway Community Hospital which came into effect in 2018 due to staffing pressures.

Option one represents the birthing service currently available in Wigtownshire. It would comprise continued care provision from Community Maternity Hub (Oak Tree Family Centre) and support for home births, but with no provision for intrapartum care within Galloway Community Hospital.

Option two would comprise the continued care delivery from Community Maternity Hub (Oak Tree Family Centre), with the addition of a planned, on call birthing option for low risk births from Clenoch Birth Centre within Galloway Community Hospital.

Under either option, there would be no midwives routinely based at Galloway Community Hospital for wider aspects of care.

Both options achieved the same score of 78 in the scoring process, inclusive of NHS Dumfries and Galloway professional leads who participated in the process. Option two was the preferred option of the professional experts independent to NHS Dumfries and Galloway, with a score of 80.

The report also noted the resource implications for resuming births on a planned, low-risk basis at the Clenoch Birth Centre, at an associated cost of about £103,000.

Contrary to some media reporting, the report was very clear that option 2 would only be for planned, low-risk labour and birth and would not be suitable for all births in the Wigtownshire area.

In the most recent data for Wigtownshire, 23% of all pregnancies were assessed as low-risk. Risk assessment throughout pregnancy and birth is undertaken following nationally recognised standards.

There is a need to highlight that, other than for location, the service provided under the option for planned, low-risk births in the Clenoch Birth Centre would be the same as the regionwide home birth service currently provided for expectant mothers in Wigtownshire.

On Thursday, the Dumfries and Galloway Integration Joint Board’s (IJB) Transformation and Innovation/Futures Committee decided to recommend to the full IJB meeting of September 27 that the two options are taken out to public consultation.