A NEW midwifery-led unit is to open at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust this summer, providing more choice for women who want to deliver without drugs or medical intervention. The aim is to create a ‘home away from home’ for families.

The unit, which has yet to be named, will be in Dakin Ward in the hospital’s Lanesborough Wing. This ward is currently used as an overflow ward for post-natal women but will undergo a transformation during the next few months.

The announcement of the project coincides with St George’s maternity service receiving national recognition for its systems for managing risk and improving patient care.

New birthing facility

The new facility will have two birthing pools, and there will be two other rooms for delivery equipped with birthing balls and mats to help women stay active during labour. The area will be furnished and decorated to create a calm atmosphere. There will also be a comfortable lounge area and kitchenette where drinks and snacks can be made for women and their birthing partners. The refurbishment will also provide post-natal beds within a separate area.

Aromatherapy and reflexology will be offered in addition to care from a team of experienced midwives. Women needing stronger pain relief or medical intervention can be transferred to the labour ward. Building work for the refurbishment project will start at the end of March.

“The midwifery-led unit will transform our facilities for low-risk women who prefer a more natural approach to giving birth,” says Angela Helleur, Director of Midwifery.

Risk management award

St George’s maternity service has been ranked as one of the safest in the country. The service, which delivers around 4,800 babies a year, has been given a ‘Level Three’ status for its proactive approach to risk management, one of only 16 maternity services in England to reach this top standard.

The ranking was given by the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts, which is run by the NHS Litigation Authority. All hospital and primary care trusts can be voluntarily members of the scheme. The Trusts pay a membership contribution and, if a case of clinical negligence is brought against the Trust, the CNST handles the claim.

In order to encourage a proactive approach to risk management, the cost of membership contribution decreases if a Trust can demonstrate that it is has effective systems for managing risk and is constantly striving to improve its patient care.

In order to move from a level two to a level three, St George’s maternity services had to meet a detailed set of criteria set by the CNST. External assessors reviewed a mass of documentary evidence and interviewed staff. The service had to provide proof not only that it has guidelines and policies in place, and that these are being monitored for compliance and effectiveness, but that the service is seeking to improve these guidelines by learning from its own experiences and those of other Trusts. The Trust also had to show that it was involving patients and their families in evaluating care and making changes.

Notes to editors

  1. For more information please contact Esther Ferguson in the Communications Unit on 020 8725 4521 or email: esther.ferguson@stgeorges.nhs.uk