UNDER-pressure health bosses at NHS Lothian have welcomed a nationwide review into maternity and neonatal services.
The Scottish Government has launched a bid to revamp services and increase the choice available to expectant mums.
The assessment will look at examples of “new and innovative” ideas, including the benefits of more home births.
The review comes as a growing number of mums-to-be are being turned away from maternity units across the Lothians, with more than three a week rejected from their first-choice ward, as revealed by the News last month.
NHS Lothian is the only health board in Scotland to divert patients to other hospitals – with some being sent to the Borders and Lanarkshire – so mother and baby can get the care they need. It is thought at least 160 women were shipped between Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and St John’s Hospital in Livingston to give birth last year alone – nearly double the rate in 2011.
Katy Ruggeri, NHS Lothian’s clinical midwifery manager of the community midwifery and outpatient services, said: “We welcome this assessment and look forward to its findings. We are always keen to continually assess and improve our service for women and their families.”
Edinburgh Southern MSP Jim Eadie, who has previously demanded a probe into the private finance initiative at the ERI, added: “There is a high level of satisfaction for women who use maternity services. However, it is entirely appropriate that governments should undertake reviews in order to assess level of service.
“It is also important to find out what other improvements could be made in light of patients’ experience to reflect good practices. Care must be evidence-based.”
Further details of the review will be announced following a short consultation before a report is sent to ministers with proposals for a revised model of care.
Public Health Minister Maureen Watt said: “We have excellent and safe maternity and neonatal services in Scotland, but we want to make sure they continue to improve.
“Changes to birth rate, demographics, new best practice and guidelines, all need to be taken into account as we look to enhance the services provided to babies and their families.
“That is exactly why we are going to assess the services we have in place at the moment, working with experts and expectant mums and dads themselves.”
Gillian Smith, director of Royal College of Midwives Scotland, described the review as “timely” given the pressures created by complex cases and an ageing workforce. Recent guidelines also tell us we should be shifting our focus from hospital-based births to more conducive birth environments – whether that is in midwife-led units or at home.”