Five maternity hubs proposed to transform maternity services in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin

25 October 2018 3:20pm

Over 60 men, women and children attended a meeting to discuss the future of the county’s midwife-led units (MLUs). The event was chaired by NHS Shropshire’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Lay Member for Patient and Public Involvement, Meredith Vivian. He explained that the meeting was designed to cover the rationale for the review, what’s happened so far to bring everyone up to date, what the evidence tells us and describe what local clinicians believe is the vision for the future.

Meredith said: “We set this briefing up to continue to hear what it feels like to deliver and also receive the midwife led unit services today, and, what it might be like in the future under the proposed new arrangements. We also wanted to hear how we can best consult local people so we can be sure we are giving everyone the opportunity to express their views and influence the future arrangements.”

GP, Dr Jess Sokolov, clinical lead for the MLU Review and Deputy Clinical Chair of NHS Shropshire CCG said: “The configuration of the MLUs we have now is what was in place when I moved to the county 30 years ago, but people’s needs have changed significantly over the years. We know from staff and the data that where there is low activity we often have too many staff, and where we have high activity, we need more. That means that we aren’t offering the best experience we can for ladies and their families around the county so we need to look at the changes we need to make.

“At the meeting we’ve made some suggestions for the way forward, informed by the data from MLU usage, population demographics and what people have told us to date. It’s an outline of what we think we might need to do, but it’s not the finished article. We held the event to understand what we might have missed to date and hear the concerns and suggestions directly from staff and women who have recently used local services.”

Fiona Ellis, Senior Commissioning Manager for the Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Midwife Led Unit Review, said: “In addition to the consultant led unit and MLUs at the two hospitals in Shrewsbury and Telford, the proposals suggest that there would be three maternity hubs in the community. We are currently exploring where the best locations for these would be, but we need to continue to gather people’s views and suggestions. Today’s session really helped to develop our thinking further, and there is more work to do before we are ready to formally consult.”

Under the proposed new service model five maternity ‘hubs’ would provide midwifery care and a range of other services, ensuring equitable access for all women and their families across the county. The hubs under consideration are proposed to be open 7 days a week, 12 hours a day. The MLU data suggests that there should be five hubs at the following locations:

  • Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, at the Freestanding MLU
  • Princess Royal Hospital, at the Wrekin Alongside MLU
  • South Telford (Lakeside South)
  • South Shropshire (Ludlow)
  • North Shropshire (Whitchurch)

These locations are not final and feedback from our ongoing engagement will continue to shape any final proposals taken forward to public consultation.

The services provided at the maternity hubs will be in addition to the routine community midwifery care provided in community settings (such as GP Surgeries) across Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.

Attendees also heard from local midwives, including Louise Watkins, Acting Matron MLU’s and community midwifery services who shared experiences from a midwife’s perspective. Louise, said: “Depending on where you work across the county your experience as a midwife can be extraordinarily different. Some will be incredibly quiet seeing very few women, whereas others will be under pressure delivering services to many individuals, including those women at higher risk.”     

The proposed new service model and proposed locations for the maternity hubs

The proposed changes are designed to ensure that the right numbers and mix of teams of midwives and doctors, are in the right places at the right times to provide an effective and safe service for mothers and babies in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin. They aim to ensure all women can be certain of the services they receive and when they are available, no matter where they live.

Currently, the vast majority (96%) of parents give birth at either the Consultant Unit at the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, the alongside MLU in Telford or the freestanding MLU at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital while only 3% of parents are giving birth in the smaller MLUs Bridgnorth, Ludlow and Oswestry, however all are being staffed 24/7.

The newly proposed service model aims to both address and ensure the imbalance and one to one care for all mothers in established labour. The model will mean women can be certain of the services they will receive, benefiting all women and their families using maternity services, no matter where they live, across the whole population of Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.

Following yesterday’s briefing, the feedback raised useful points that will require additional action in order to develop the model further to meet the needs of women and their families across the county of Shropshire.

To find out more information on the MLU Review visit