Some answers about the future of maternity at the Whittington

March 9, 2010

My chums on mumsnet said they had heard all about the A&E closures but wanted to know more about how the plans would affect the maternity services. So I promised them I would find out more details …and then I realized that I didn’t quite know how…

But I was lucky: Due to the increasing popularity of this blog (thanks for reading, Clare and everyone else 🙂 Karen Jennings invited me to an event she organised with Whittington midwives, local mums and …BINGO….Cathy Warwick, the General Secretary of the Royal College of Midwives.

So I went along to the event and asked Cathy how the proposed plans would affect the maternity services at the Whittington. She said that the closure of the A&E could potentially have a significant knock-on effect on other services such as maternity. Hospitals without an A&E loose the facilities to provide for (medically and socially)  high-risk  pregnancies.  So women who are at risk would have to travel further to receive the required care. Cathy also raised the issue that  birth rates are rising while midwives are currently working at full capacity in London. If the Whittington closes its maternity unit do the other services have the capacity to take on the extra workload?

Cathy is worried  about the establishment of huge obstetrics units in a few hospitals. She said that midwives don’t like to work in factory-like settings and that staff retention would be a problem. She also said that in these settings women could not have the more personal relationship with their midwives and that this is not the kind of services the midwives would like to provide for us.

So what could happen to the Whittington maternity?

I guess there is still the possibility that all maternity services go but there is also the option that they keep the new birth centre as a stand-alone midwife-let unit. So if you want a natural birth you can go there and while you labour keep your fingers crossed  that all goes well. Because if it doesn’t (if you need an epidural or a caesarean section for example, which is usually in the more advanced stages of labour) they will put you in an ambulance and ship you off to the Royal Free or UCLH …and hopefully the traffic isn’t too bad and they actually do have a space for you at such short notice…

Another option would be to keep something which is called a “low-grade obstetrics” unit, which could provide some medical intervention beyond the scope of a birth centre.  But this “low-grade” concept does not seem to stack up very well because if you need medical intervention that is not provided where you are you still need to travel to another hospital in the middle of labour.

I hope this clarifies the situation a bit for you. It certainly did for me so: thank you very much, Cathy !

In the next week or so I will add a page to this blog about the threat to maternity servies, so it’s reference for all of us…

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One Response to “Some answers about the future of maternity at the Whittington”


  1. […] have already blogged about meeting Cathy Warwick, the general secretary of the Royal College of Midviwes and that I got some much appreciated […]


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