Over recent weeks our Maternity Service has seen increased levels of activity that at certain times has resulted in us having to make difficult decisions regarding admission plans for some pregnant women.
When these high levels of activity have been particularly challenging we have posted updates at short notice via our website and social media channels to make pregnant women aware and to inform them that it may impact on their plans for admission.
We understand that this has been a worrying time for pregnant women and families. We would therefore like to provide some further detail and reassurance about our Maternity Service, what to expect when you come to the hospital and the support that we are able to offer.
What is the issue?
Due to current levels of activity alongside some staffing challenges, our Maternity Service has been required to notify pregnant women on a number of occasions in recent weeks that their admission to Liverpool Women’s may be impacted. The decision to change a woman’s admission plan is not taken lightly but is clinically driven to ensure safe and effective maternity care. Although we always aim to avoid this, during times of significant pressure we may be required to advise women of the need to transfer their care to somewhere else. In addition, due to these recent challenges and the need to ensure we are providing a high quality of care at all times, it has resulted in us temporarily closing our Midwifery Led Unit (MLU) at certain times. When this occurs we want to reassure all women that the staff and ethos of MLU care is always transferred to our Delivery Suite.
What is causing the staffing challenges?
There is a national shortage of midwives which has made recruitment a challenge for some time in terms of filling vacant posts. This alongside other normal issues with existing staff availability such as sickness, has increased pressure on staffing levels and our services as a result.
Are these issues expected to carry on?
The decision to change a woman’s admission plan is not taken lightly and is always based on clinical decisions in order to deliver safe and effective care. Whilst it is not the Trust’s preference to change a woman’s care plan when they have specifically chosen Liverpool Women’s, any decisions we make are always in the best interest of the women and babies that we care for. We will continue to have open and honest conversations with our pregnant women whilst we face these challenges.
What is the Trust doing to tackle these challenges?
We have recently completed a successful recruitment drive with a number of new midwives joining the Trust in the coming weeks. In addition, other areas of the Trust are supporting our Maternity Service and we are in contact with regional teams in other Trusts to provide mutual support where required.
Should you continue to plan to have your baby at Liverpool Women’s?
Yes, absolutely. We understand that some of this current uncertainty may be worrying for women and families however unless you are advised otherwise by your midwife, your care will be delivered as planned. Your midwife will be happy to have a more detailed conversation with you about this to provide further assurance for your individual care.
How should women contact the hospital if they have concerns?
We would like to assure pregnant women that we will stay in contact with you during this busy period to keep you informed and involved about any decisions relating to your care or admission.
Your midwife will have these conversations with you directly in advance where possible but if you are due to attend the hospital at short notice and have any concerns please call MAU on 0151 702 4413 or via the main switchboard on 0151 708 9988.
We are aware that our phone lines are often very busy and people may struggle to get through at times – we apologise for this but please stay on the line after dialling (even when you only hear a dialling tone) and a member of our team will answer your call as soon as possible.
We are also currently working on plans to offer additional tools that women can use to communicate with our Maternity Service alongside an improved phone system and as soon as we have more detail on this we will share it.