We had a fantastic MSLC meeting yesterday with the Royal Sussex midwives who updated us on the following:
Refurbishment of the labour ward:
- the new pool room with ensuite loo/wet room is up and running.
- another birthing room with ensuite loo/wet room is also up and running.
- work continues to create ensuite facilities across the rest of the labour ward.
The new homebirth service:
- the new homebirth service launched last week with a dedicated homebirth team.
- in the 1st week, 10 women in Brighton and Hove birthed at home, almost as many as in the last month !
- the community and hospital midwives have already reported a huge boost in morale around home birth and are looking forward to promoting this choice to suitable women.
Everyone is expecting these developments to increase the normal birth rate – watch this space !
At the end of January, we learnt that the Department of Health had awarded the Royal Sussex County Hospital £300,000 to upgrade the ensuite facilities on the labour ward. We are still waiting for an update on the exact timescale of this work. We’ll keep you posted.
But following on its heels, we are told, will be the plans to build the Brighton and Sussex Birth Centre on Level 11 of the Tower Block, expected to be open by the end of next year (2014). Again, we’ll update you as soon as we know.
We are also hoping to hear soon about the new home birth service for Brighton and Hove – with a target to cover 10% of all births across the City. This new service will be rolled out soon. Music to our ears.
A couple of things to read and watch before we sign off for Christmas.
A powerful article in last weekend’s Observer magazine:
The film Freedom for Birth can be viewed at:
Please circulate to your friends and colleagues. It tackles some vital issues that are impacting on maternity services everywhere.
Happy Christmas to all !
Breastfeeding saves the NHS money says UNICEF:
At our MSLC meeting on Monday, the Head of Midwifery for Brighton and Sussex University Hospital Trust (BSUH) announced the approval of funding for 15 full time midwives: half now and half by April 2013. With interviews taking place this week, we should see an improvement in staffing numbers within the month.
She also talked about the plans for a new improved home birth service, staffed 24/7 by dedicated community midwives. BSUH have set a target: they want to see 10% of all births in our area taking place at home (we are currently at 4%, down from 7% two years ago).
A full refurbishment of the maternity unit of Levels 12 and 13 is also scheduled, with improved en suite facilities to support normal birth for all women, even those deemed high risk. The commitment to the Birth Centre is as strong as ever.
So much good news from one meeting is difficult to absorb. Following years of sustained user pressure and a good twelve months of serious planning from the senior midwifery team, it looks like Brighton and Hove’s maternity services are about to move into the 21st century. Well done to all involved.
But we are not there yet. Brighton and Hove MSLC will keep the pressure on…and keep you informed !
Around the world over the next 24 hours, over 1000 screenings will take place of a campaigning film by Brighton based organisation One World Birth. Freedom for Birth re-frames choices in childbirth as a human-rights issue, featuring the case of a Hungarian home-birthing mother who challenged the laws against midwifery and home-birth in her country – and won !
Screenings in the Brighton area tonight (Thursday 20th September 2012) :
Eagle Pub, Gloucester Road, Brighton at 7pm
Mumababy Sanctuary, 32 Cliffe High Street, Lewes at 7.30pm
365 Ditchling Road, Brighton at 8pm
There’s a petition to sign: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/amnesty-international-europe-amnesty-international-to-save-persecuted-midwives-in-europe
For more information, have a look at their website: http://www.freedomforbirth.com/
Brighton and Hove MSLC will be represented today at the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Maternity awards at the House of Lords. Innovation and expertise within the NHS maternity services will be rewarded – although this year our hospital trust Brighton and Sussex University Hospital Trust (BSUH) was not shortlisted. Maybe next year ? When we have our birth centre ?!? The Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley will be there – I’m hoping he’ll have to something to say about his pledge for 5000 more midwives and a ‘named’ midwife for every woman. Will keep you posted. H x
As chair of the MSLC, I listen to women who want to share their birth story – and pass their feedback on to the providers and commissioners of the NHS services. Every birth story is full of highs and lows, some are traumatic, others pure joy. All reflect the right of passage that leads to motherhood. Pregnant women and their partners learn about birth from others’ stories – and can feel inundated with ‘horror stories’. This trend is being reversed by a new website celebrating positive stories of birth - tellmeagoodbirthstory.com. If you had a positive birth, sign up to be a birth buddy and help inspire confidence in others. We can do it ! Hannah x
My last blog as MSLC chair was – oh no ! – the end of March. Such tardiness is inexclusable. But then I realise – in these last six weeks, I’ve been in meeting after meeting with MSLC members discussing the current situation with maternity services in Brighton and Hove (staffing issues continue, home birth rates falling but so at last is c-section). There have also been numerous meetings around the bigger Sussex -wide picture (we need a birth centre !!!). Each meeting throws up a bigger to-do list, more issues to tackle. With so much on the MSLC plate, I’m currently collating a list of priorities for the next twelve months. If you live in Brighton and Hove, let me know what your priorities are. If you’re outside our area, what would your priorities be for improving your local maternity services ? Email me directly on firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment here.
Running a parent-led MSLC is a challenging, time consuming business. Planning the meetings, tackling the issues and supporting parents could be a full time job. Yet most, if not all, MSLC lay chairs are part time volunteers with an intense passion for all things birth. In this current climate of cutbacks, our passion drives us to ensure the issues around maternity care stay firmly on the wider agenda. Our collective voice must be louder than ever.
In Brighton and Hove, the wonderful midwives work hard to provide safe care with the available resources – but there are simply not enough midwives to go around. What can we do as an MSLC to influence those who hold the purse strings to invest in midwifery staff ? We’re currently deliberating the most effective course of action and will share our plan with you.
But one thing is for certain – WOMEN NEED MIDWIVES NEED WOMEN. As an MSLC we will keep pushing for adequate numbers of midwives – to support women to have empowering births – and to create a rewarding working environment for the midwifery team.