Diary of a Sutton Councillor

Tuesday 22nd April 10-2pm

In safe hands



I attended this event as a representative for London Borough of Sutton.

The purpose of this event was for the project team panel to seek views and respond to questions from community groups and other stakeholders.

This is an area I have a particular interest in as a result of my NCT links and I was pleased that NCT representatives from the local branch had been invited and were able to attend. The NCT has a recognised reputation for providing unbiased information on issues around maternity services and early parenthood. The charity does extensive research and evaluation of other’s research and studies to ensure that the information they provide is evidence based and unbiased. I therefore felt that I had good background knowledge to call on to input into the event.

I made a comment that the information provided on staffing guidelines was only relevant to consultant-led obstetric units and for balance perhaps information should also have been provided for midwife-led maternity units and community support for homebirths.

When the options for service reconfiguration were presented I commented that the approach taken focused on risk assessment, staffing levels and sites, whereas Government guidance in the form of the National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services, and the White Paper ‘Our Health, Our Care, Our Say’ both emphasise that maternity services should be designed around the women’s needs and should provide choice over birth environment.

Later on I brought up the fact that the Payment by Results commissioning basis is biased against normal birth as Trusts receive more money for births requiring interventions than those that proceed normally. I was pleased to be corrected and my knowledge found to be out of date when I was told by the finance representative on the Panel that this policy had now been amended to be neutral for 2008/9.

 I was surprised and pleased at the number of attendees who were concerned about the lack of choice available for local women, the high rate of caesarean sections performed by the trust (at ~25% well above the WHO recommended rate considered necessary of 10%), and the support for midwife-led maternity services. These feelings have not come across strongly in previous reporting of the debate over the review of the service. The Panel gave feedback on what they had learned from the event and noted that they took on board the strong support for midwife-led units which had previously only been viewed as an add-on.

All attendees are automatically invited to a further feedback session 27th May to hear what proposals are being put forward after the results of all 6 stakeholder events have been considered.

Sutton & Cheam MP Paul Burstow was also at the event and contributed intelligently to the discussions. An NCT colleague of mine was very impressed by his summary of the proposals: Mr Burstow said that the Panel were presenting the options as models of care, when in fact this was misleading as they were nothing more than site options offering variations of the same model.


May 14, 2008 - Posted by | Meeting

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