Funding cut hits local midwife services

North Devon District Hospital, Barnstaple

North Devon District Hospital, Barnstaple - Credit: Archant

Changes are ‘inevitable’ in light of £1.1m budget cuts, say NHS Trust.

A SHAKEUP of maternity services in North Devon is under way to plug a £1.1million budget cut.

Northern Devon Healthcare Trust (NDHT) is to relocate midwives from GP surgeries to three central hubs across North Devon in a bid to make efficiency savings.

The venues for the new hub-based model have yet to be decided.

Midwife home visits are set to continue but will be determined on the basis of ‘clinical need’.

Jac Kelly, chief executive, said the loss of income would ‘inevitably call for a redesign of services’.

She said: “We know this won’t be easy to achieve and we will need all the knowledge, enthusiasm and commitment of our clinical staff to secure the best outcome for the families we serve.

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“The scale of the changes and the fact they have to be introduced immediately isn’t ideal.

“Some of the changes bring us in line with the model of care in other parts of the country. However, there will be service changes we would otherwise not have been planning to undertake.

“The changes will be implemented in a planned way, and clinicians will be closely involved in ensuring the service has a smooth transition to a new model of care.”

The 20 per cent funding cut – from around £5m to £4m – has been made by the newly established Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

But the CCG says it is actually providing the Trust with an additional £1.1m to national tariff guidelines which came into effect in April.

Dr John Womersley, the CCG’s northern locality chairman, said: “Ensuring a quality service while being responsive to the financial implications imposed on us is a priority.

“That is why the CCG has committed £1.1 million above the national tariff to maternity services in North Devon while a review of the model of maternity care is undertaken.

“This review will include consultation with a range of people from the community as well as with colleagues at NDHT.

“We are all striving for the same thing – providing the best possible service for the patient, while continuing to make the savings we must make to preserve a quality health service for the future.”

Jac Kelly said patient safety was paramount: “We will preserve one-to-one care during labour for all women; and we will eliminate waste and duplication in our existing service to protect frontline services.

“We are rightfully proud of the maternity and obstetric service we currently offer. The Care Quality Commission puts us in the top 10 per cent of Trusts in the country for these services while the feedback we receive from patient satisfaction surveys is consistently very positive.”

Dr Womersley added: “The reality of the current financial climate is that changes are necessary to deliver services within the finances available.

“The CCG will be working closely with the Trust to ensure that the access and quality of services is maintained in this environment.”

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