THE healthcare trust that runs Furness General Hospital has said it will put the brakes on its home birthing service in Barrow as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Yesterday, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundtion Trust (UHMBT) said it will temporarily step down the service across Barrow, Lancaster and Kendal to ensure the safety of its patients and staff as COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly.
UHMBT is also temporarily suspending the service at Helme Chase in Westmorland General Hospital, meaning women will not be able to give birth there. Both of these changes will come into effect next Monday.
Mums-to-be who had planned to give birth at home or at Helme Chase will be contacted by their community midwife who will talk them through concerns they may have and alternative birthing options.
Clinics and breast-feeding support at Helme Chase will carry on as normal.
The announcement came on the same day as the Trust said it would temporarily suspend visits for all patients in its hospitals with immediate effect.
UHMBT bosses said that, until further notice, visits will only be permitted for patients who are receiving end-of-life care, birthing partners in the Maternity Units and parents or legal guardians in the children’s wards.
The trust also advises that visits for those specific reasons must be agreed in advance with the nurse responsible for the relevant ward.
Visitors are also required to agree one main point of contact per patient. UHMBT says this should be the only person that contacts the ward by telephone to arrange visiting.
As part of yesterday’s announcement of the new visitor restrictions, Sue Smith, executive chief nurse and deputy chief executive at UHMBT, said: “We are extremely sad to have to make the decision to temporarily suspend visiting at our hospitals but it is necessary to keep our staff and patients safe.
“We understand that visiting is very important to our patients and their loved ones and as soon as we are able to lift the suspension, we will.
“In the meantime, we would ask for the public’s help in respecting these rules to help us all stay safe.”
Carole Carlile, head of midwifery, obstetrics and gynaecology at UHMBT, said: “We have taken the decision to temporarily stand down the service at Helme Chase and our home birthing service due to the ongoing situation around COVID-19.
“The trust feels at this time that it is important to utilise our midwives in a different way which will ensure both the safety of our patients and staff. Midwives who would normally be working at Helme Chase or on call for home births will be deployed to other areas of the service, including helping to support more complex births within our hospitals and helping to support women in the community.
“We will continue to monitor the situation carefully and follow national guidance.
“We will keep our website and maternity app updated and urge any mums-to-be with any concerns to contact their community midwife.”