Midwife-led unit would be safe in Welwyn Garden City hospital

CONFLICTING views over the safety and practicality of a purely midwife-led maternity unit at the new QE2 Hospital is raging among GPs.

Main opposition comes in the form of how safe the unit would be – there are fears about transporting mums, having problems during birth, to the nearest consultant unit at Lister.

Some believe the best option is to have a mixed unit so if anything does go wrong they would be there to provide back up – a facility which is not feasible at both the new QE2 and Lister, which is being redeveloped with such units.

However, members of the Say Yes To Maternity campaign are convinced that a standalone midwife-led unit would be safe with only mums considered ‘low risk’ being offered the service.

Dr David Creak admits while it would be “preferable” to have a consultant unit with full back up facilities, it is not possible to secure this as part of the redevelopment of both hospitals.

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The Peartree Lane surgery GP said: “The question arises as to whether a midwife led unit is a feasible, economically possible, and safe option .

“The word option is important here, because it is about offering our patients/mothers the choice.

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“There will always be discussions about safety and I know there will be concerns about complications which arise during labour which may require transfer of mothers during labour to the Lister but these must be balanced by the advantages to selected mothers of the increased safety of reduced transfer time in early labour. I believe many women would choose this option.”

Midwife-led units are private delivery rooms, which provide a welcoming, supportive environment for women and their families who would like to give birth in a home from home environment.

Dr Creak said other units had been through such arguments in the planning stages, yet were now tried and tested.

“It has been argued that these units do not offer any advantage to women over home delivery. I do not think this is a correct judgement,” he added.

“I believe many woman who might prefer a home confinement may prefer delivery in a hospital setting purely on practical and aesthetic grounds.

“It also seems to me that the deployment of midwives would also be more effective and efficient in this way.”

Dr Creak stressed his viewpoint is personal and not shared by many GP colleagues although it is broadly supported by his partners at Peartree Lane.

Meghan Rice, a doula, who provides pre-birth, birth and postnatal care, added she believed midwife-led units were preferable in some cases, as consultants were trained in dealing with abnormalities and births that had complications.

“There is a school of thought consultants are more likely than midwives to interfere with the normal birth process,” she said.

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