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Concern over Frome Maternity Unit not being staffed at night

The Friends of Frome Hospital say they are concerned that Frome Maternity Unit is no longer staffed overnight.

The Frome unit comes under the management of Royal United Hospital Bath (RUH)  in common with all the maternity services in Bath & North East Somerset and Wiltshire. These services incorporate four free standing units run by midwives, including Frome’s unit.  RUH is proposing major changes which have been the subject of public consultation which ended on the 24th February.

Under the RUH proposals, only two of the free standing units are being retained for birthing purposes, one of which will be Frome’s unit. 

The Friends of Frome Hospital say, “Although the RUH proposal retains Frome for birthing, a separate decision appears to have  been made and implemented which is not part of the consultation document. In Frome there has always been a midwife and a care assistant on duty overnight. However, with effect from 7th January no staff have been based at the unit between 8.30pm and 8 am the following morning.  

“Although Frome is still available for birthing at night, the mother has to firstly contact the Paulton Birth Centre who contact an on call Frome midwife. The Frome midwife  then has to open up the Frome unit and call upon a second midwife who could be from Paulton or further afield,  to help with the birth.”

“This seems to be an unnecessarily complicated system ” says Peter Smith, chairman of the Friends of Frome Hospital. “It would seem to put an increasing burden on  midwives who are already stretched.  Also in the event of an overnight birth, mothers could now be treated by an unfamiliar midwife which is contrary to the policy of continuity of care. There is also evidence that mothers miss the ability to make immediate contact overnight with staff based at the Frome unit for advice, something they rate very highly.

“However assurances have been made by RUH that the service to mothers will in no way deteriorate as a result of the changes being made.” 

Over the past two years, the Friends of Frome Hospital say they have made a considerable investment in the Frome unit to make it more comfortable and friendly for mothers and families and there is no doubt that both the superb new environment, the high reputation of the unit and the dedication of its staff have been factors taken into account in the proposal to keep Frome’s unit open for birthing purposes.

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