Devon

Devon NHS performs U-turn on overnight maternity stays

New baby breast feeding
Image caption Some mothers want to stay overnight to have extra help with breast feeding

A campaign led by mothers and pregnant women has prompted a U-turn by health bosses in Devon to reduce maternity services.

NHS Devon was planning to stop overnight stays at community hospitals in Okehampton, Honiton and Tiverton.

But it has now recommend that some mothers could be allowed to stay if midwives felt they needed extra support.

Campaigners described it as a "victory for people power".

NHS Devon said it had listened to mothers and other important stakeholders and decided to change the original proposal.

Women who are clinically fit for discharge after giving birth will now be able to stay overnight if a midwife feels they need more help.

'Inspiring sign'

When the reductions were proposed earlier this year, thousands of people joined campaigns against the proposals, claiming it would mean less support for new mothers, particularly ones exhausted after childbirth or those with breast-feeding difficulties.

Sue Macdonald, from the Royal College of Midwives, said for the majority of women pregnancy and childbirth was a "normal" event and most mothers were well enough to return home six to 10 hours later.

She said: "However some women want to stay in hospital, or a hospital setting, for a little bit longer and I think it's important to give them the choice."

Dr John Ackroyd, a retired GP from Ottery St Mary who campaigned for overnight stays, said: "As ever, the devil is in the detail of course and we are waiting to hear more about the criteria that will be used by midwives to assess mums.

"This decision is an inspiring sign that if you are determined enough to change something, you can.

"It has been hard work, but worth every minute to know that local families will now benefit from a service that is so important to them."

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