You have a choice or do you?
Women could be forced into giving birth in a midwife led unit against their will, Save the Alex campaigners have warned.
A spokesman for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust appears to have confirmed the only way it will be able to take the additional 2,000 births from the Alex is by using the midwife-led Meadow Birth Centre, based on the Worcestershire Royal site, for women with low risk pregnancies.
The Trust has also updated its FAQs to women, which previously stated women due to give birth in Redditch would be automatically transferred to the Worcestershire Royal but ‘mums can choose’ to have their baby in the Meadow Birth Centre or could look to be transferred to Warwick or Birmingham Women’s Hospital.
However the word choice has been removed and it now states all women will be clinically assessed and then offered the most ‘clinically appropriate option’ of the Meadow Birth Centre or consultant-led main delivery suite.
Campaigners are concerned the changing in wording suggests women with low risk pregnancies will be forced to give birth in the Meadow Birth Centre, even if they want to give birth in the main consultant-led (obstetric) unit.
This is a breach of NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence) guidance which states that clinicians should explain women may choose any birth setting (home, freestanding midwifery unit, alongside midwifery unit or obstetric unit) and ‘support them in their choice of setting wherever they choose to give birth’.
The guidance also states advice given to women should be discussed in a way that means staff ‘ do not disclose personal views or judgements about her choices’.
Neal Stote, chairman of the Save the Alex Campaign, said: “There’s lots of evidence which shows for women with low risk pregnancies giving birth in a midwife led unit has many benefits and we don’t dispute that. However where women give birth should be their choice, based on unbiased information from their midwife.
“We don’t see how staff can do that given that WAHT appears to have predetermined where a certain proportion of our mums-to-be should give birth. WAHT do not have the right to decide where women choose to give birth and we urge them to clarify the situation immediately and assure the women of Redditch and Bromsgrove they will not be forced to give birth in a setting they did not choose just so WAHT can justify the dangerous downgrade of our local maternity unit.
“We want mums-to-be to know they have the right to choose their birth setting and the right to request a different hospital from Worcester and we hope they will fight for those rights.”
The NICE guidance also states commissioners should ensure women have access to all four types of birth setting, something Save the Alex argues they have failed to meet by supporting the downgrade of the Alex as Birmingham Women’s and the Worcestershire Royal does not have appropriate capacity.
8. Do I have to go to Worcestershire Royal or can I go elsewhere?
Mums-to-be who are booked into the Alexandra Hospital will automatically be transferred to Worcestershire Royal. However mums can choose to either have their baby at the midwife-led Meadow Birth Centre or can look at having their baby at South Warwickshire Foundation Trust or Birmingham Women’s Hospital.
8. Do I have to go to Worcestershire Royal or can I go elsewhere? Mums-to-be who are booked into the Alexandra Hospital will automatically be transferred to Worcestershire Royal. Mums will be clinically assessed and offered the most clinically appropriate option of either the midwife-led Meadow Birth Centre or the consultant led main delivery suite.
Currently the petition is available to sign on-line at https://goo.gl/SelbEY Paper copies will be available to sign during the vigil on Thursday.