There is an increasing number of women with complex healthcare needs during pregnancy. This requires more consultant presence in order to reduce maternal mortality and poor outcome. Maternity units in North West need to provide high-quality, safe care, which can be done by having fewer units, allowing more consultant cover on the labour ward.
For that reason, on 1 July 2015 Ealing Hospital maternity birthing unit closed. Sixty per cent of the women in Ealing were already choosing to give birth in hospitals outside the borough and Ealing maternity unit was only managing to prove 60 hours of consultant care compared to significantly more in other units. The dedicated, professional staff at the unit were providing a safe service for their women, but it was likely that it would not have been possible to maintain it as a safe unit in future. For those women who were booked to give birth at Ealing Hospital, we worked closely with them to ensure their care was safely transferred to an alternative unit of their choice. Ante and postnatal care continues to be delivered locally in Ealing, including on the Ealing Hospital site, and has in fact now increased in the borough.
As a result of the changes, North West London has been able to improve maternity care for women across North West London by:
If you are pregnant and looking to decide what hospital to book into, you can find out more information about giving birth in North West London here
Improved gynaecology service
All gynaecology services will remain at Ealing Hospital and many will remain unchanged, including outpatients, colposcopy, diagnostic tests such as scans and day-case surgery. We have increased the senior clinical cover during core hours (from 9am-1pm to 9am-5pm on weekdays) and also cover on weekends (from zero to 9am-1pm) in Ealing’s Emergency Gynaecology Unit.
To ensure that our youngest patients receive the best possible care, seven days a week, units need to be staffed properly and this can be done by concentrating in-patient paediatric care into a smaller number of units.
Whilst the majority of paediatric activity will remain at Ealing Hospital and elsewhere in the borough the current plans are that, from 30th June 2016, there will be no inpatient paediatric unit at Ealing Hospital.
All out-patient services, including day-case, clinics for children with additional needs, as well as child and adolescent mental health services, will continue unchanged.
Staffing for paediatrics at Ealing Hospital is already fragile – the number of consultants they employ is significantly below the Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health (RCPCH) and London Quality Standard.
With the relocation of neonatal services, and their associated paediatric staff, as a result of the maternity improvements, it will be even more difficult to maintain the staffing levels needed to provide safe inpatient paediatric services and sustain training rotations at Ealing Hospital.
Between now and next year, we will be doing a lot of work to help inform the public of the changes to paediatric services and advise them of where they can access paediatric care once they have come into effect.