NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) Governing Body and NHS England Specialised Commissioning has approved a recommendation to centralise all maternity and neonatal services, including a new, larger midwifery-led unit, at a new hospital due to be built at Leeds General Infirmary.
The approval follows a public consultation that took place between 13 January and 5 April 2020.
Hospital-based antenatal services will also be on the new site while antenatal services in the community will not change. 70% of antenatal appointments are already delivered in the community and the aim is to increase these. Better Births national maternity policy is clear on the need to increase community maternity support by creating community hubs. In Leeds a priority will be to develop a community hub near the St James’s site
Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is planning to build two new hospitals at the Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) in Leeds city centre. The plans – called Hospitals for the Future – centre on developing modern, responsive health facilities for adults at the LGI, and for children and young people at Leeds Children’s Hospital. Work will start to prepare the site later this year and building work will begin in 2022.
Following the consultation, the results showed that 58% of people who took part preferred the option to centralise all maternity and neonatal services, and outpatient antenatal hospital appointments, at the new LGI site. The plans also aim to reduce inter-hospital transfers of neonatal babies, allow a more efficient and flexible service to improve overall experience for families.
Dr Jane Mischenko, Strategic Lead Commissioner for Children and Maternity at NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “In Leeds, we are committed to working with partner organisations in order to deliver the best experience and outcomes for women, their partners and babies in the city. I’m very pleased that the plan to reconfigure maternity services has been supported, as it will improve further the quality, safety and experience of maternity care. It is such an important time in people’s lives and we have a city priority for all babies to get the best start in life. A centralised service means that women will receive their care alongside their baby, which really supports this ambition and helps establish bonding and breastfeeding.”
Dr Mark Lambert, Acting Medical Director for Commissioning with NHS England and NHS Improvement (North East and Yorkshire) said: “Around 180 babies a year are transferred between LGI and St James’ after they are born, which is stressful for families and puts additional pressure on other services. In some instances, a baby born at St James’s Hospital may require a higher level of neonatal care than expected, and are then transferred urgently to the LGI, resulting in mothers and babies being separated soon after birth. Having all specialisms for maternal and neonatal care located on one site will ensure the safe and efficient provision of maternity care in Leeds.”
Dr Kelly Cohen, Clinical Director and Consultant Obstetrician for Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust, said: “I am delighted with the decision made today, as this will enable us to continue to provide the best possible maternity and neonatal services for families across Leeds and beyond. By centralising the services into the new hospitals at LGI, we will be able to provide a more joined-up and personalised service. In particular, we will be able to provide a much needed larger midwifery-led unit and also avoid our families being separated across two hospital sites when they need to be together the most.
“It will enable our clinical teams to work together more efficiently and spend more time with our families, providing the support they really value. It has been helpful to listen to the feedback during the consultation from those who have used, or expect to use, our services and over the next few months we will take this on board and incorporate it, along with further feedback and views, into the development of what I am confident will be an amazing new maternity and neonatal unit here in Leeds”.
Notes to editor
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