WOMEN are to be offered more choice over where they give birth with the creation of a midwife-led unit at the Worcestershire Royal.
Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust (WAHT) has been awarded £500,000 from the Department of Health to build the unit, which will allow women to deliver normally but with a consultant-led unit next door should problems occur.
The idea dates back to 2001 and was included in the package agreed with commissioners in 2008 the last time the county’s maternity services were reviewed. A similar bid was made last year but rejected.
Penny Venables, chief executive of WAHT, said the creation of the MLU in Worcester would increase choice for women across the county as Worcestershire was one of the only areas without such a unit.
She added it would also support the training of new midwives at the University of Worcester, as there is a higher level of surgical intervention on a full obstetric unit which limits opportunities for trainees to develop their skills.
“The whole point is to normalise deliveries, reduce the casarean section rate from choice rather than clinical need and normalise birthing options,” she said.
The move has been welcomed by the University of Worcester.
The university, which works in close partnership with the WAHT and is the National Childbirth Trust’s university partner of choice, has a long-standing commitment to contributing to the best and safest birth environments for women.
Sarah Snow, lead midwife for education at the University of Worcester and an award winner from the Royal College of Midwives, said: “We are delighted that there is to be a midwife-led unit at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital.
“All the scientific evidence shows that the creation of such units leads to better, safer birth outcomes overall for mothers and their babies.
“The creation of this new unit will also provide marvellous new opportunities for educating the student midwives whom the country so badly needs.”
The university receives more than 30 applications for every place to study to become a qualified midwife.
Last July, the university held the sixth Annual Birth Conference, which debated the merits of midwife-led units.
During that, the conference chair, professor Mary Nolan, said there was a very strong desire in the profession to ensure first class midwife led units were created throughout the UK.