Cumbria

Helme Chase maternity ward staffing consultation

Temporary part-time staffing of a maternity ward could be made permanent.

Since 2014, midwives at Westmorland General Hospital's Helme Chase unit have been on call overnight and at weekends if there are no patients to care for.

The University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust said it has saved 3,000 working hours.

The NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) wants the change made permanent.

Eleanor Hodgson, director of children and families for the CCG, said the majority of mothers now have their babies at consultant-led maternity units at Barrow and Lancaster.

She said: "The interim change (at Helme Chase) released more than 3,000 clinical hours in the first 15 months alone.

"This has enabled the Trust to use its midwives more effectively to improve the maternity care it provides and now we are proposing that the on-call arrangement is made permanent."

About 10 babies a month are born at Helme Chase, which can be used by women assessed as having a low risk pregnancy.

In 2013 the average was 17.

The CCG is holding a six week consultation.

Liberal Democrat MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale Tim Farron has previously criticised the changes to working hours saying the unit should be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

More than 1,000 people have signed a petition started by the MP.

Related Topics

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites