Northampton: Maternity unit requires an additional 37 midwives

Northampton Medical Center

An under-appreciated maternity service requires 37 more midwives, or about a fifth of its entire midwifery staff.

According to the care regulator, Northampton General Hospital frequently lacked the number of knowledgeable and experienced employees needed to protect women from avoidable harm.

According to information obtained by the BBC, 49 serious incidents have happened in its maternity services over the last four years.

In the last 18 months, the hospital claimed to have done "a lot of work," and a hiring process was currently underway.

The service was rated as needing improvement in a report released by the Care Quality Commission on Friday.

A Freedom of Information Act response states that the hospital experienced 278 serious incidents between November 2018 and November 2022, with obstetrics and gynecology services having the highest number.

Northampton General Hospital
There are 37 midwives needed right now.

An open culture of reporting and looking into negative incidents, according to the trust's spokeswoman.

According to them, "maternity services have more serious incidents on a national level than other departments in any acute hospital trust because of certain triggers that result in a serious incident being declared.".

There are currently 37 open positions for midwives, but according to the trust, staffing levels are "closely managed" and "all shifts are covered by bank or midwives working altered shift patterns" to ensure that they can offer a safe delivery experience.

In order to provide oversight of staffing and activity, the hospital has a midwifery manager on call 24 hours a day.

The trust reported that it has an active hiring procedure and that it was also noticing an increase in complex cases.

The hospital's chief executive and hospital trust board place a lot of emphasis on improving our maternity services, the spokeswoman said.

"Over the past 18 months, significant effort has been put forth to enhance our maternity services, and positive strides have been made. These efforts include bolstering the senior leadership team in the unit, increased monitoring, and proactive recruitment of maternity support staff, midwives, and international midwives.

"We get a lot of really great feedback from parents about their experiences at [our] maternity unit.

We want to reassure expectant parents that we have solid procedures in place to manage staffing levels and make sure every shift is covered.

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