Improvements to maternity services in North West London will be introduced from 1 July 2015.
The changes will improve healthcare for women across North West London by increasing midwife-to-birth ratios, providing more senior consultant cover in maternity units and moving towards 24/7 consultant cover on the labour ward, and greater investment in home birth teams.
As part of the changes, Ealing Hospital’s maternity unit will close and its services will be consolidated onto six hospital sites – all of which will have their facilities upgraded – across North West London as well as being delivered through more midwifery-led care in the community.
Most women from the borough of Ealing who choose to give birth at Hillingdon, West Middlesex, Northwick Park, Queen Charlotte’s and St Mary’s hospitals will still be able to have the majority of their antenatal and postnatal appointments at Ealing Hospital, if they wish.
Paediatric services will remain unchanged at Ealing Hospital, although there will be improvements to these services over the next 12 months with the introduction of a new Paediatric Rapid Access Clinic and seven-day consultant cover.
The date for the transition of maternity services was confirmed at a meeting of Ealing Clinical Commissioning Group’s Governing Body on 20 May 2015.
Dr Mohini Parmar, Ealing GP and Chair of NHS Ealing Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Midwives and clinicians are clear that these changes will help improve healthcare for women across North West London by providing more consultant-led care and more midwives in our local communities.
“What’s more, many women from the borough of Ealing will still be able to have the majority of their antenatal and postnatal care at Ealing Hospital, if they wish.
“The clinical advice from independent bodies like the London Clinical Senate has always been to implement these changes as soon as possible in order to ensure we meet the changing – and improved – quality standards for maternity units in London.
“After much work, we now have the additional staffing, beds and facilities in our other hospitals in order to make this transition.”
The changes were first proposed by healthcare professionals across North West London in 2013 as part of the “Shaping a Healthier Future” programme.
These plans were subject to public consultation and review by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP), a group of national healthcare experts. The IRP supported the proposals and the Secretary of State subsequently committed the programme to proceeding.
The London Clinical Senate, an independent body of expert clinicians which provides strategic advice to improve quality of care and experience for patients, recently endorsed the clear need for these changes to maternity services to occur as soon as it is safe to do so and no later than June 2015.
Ealing Hospital maternity unit is currently a safe place for women to give birth. However, quality standards for maternity units are changing and in future Ealing Hospital would be unable to meet this new standard.
Dr Parmar continued: “We will be contacting all women who are currently booked to give birth at Ealing Hospital to discuss whether they are affected by the closure date or not, and what their options are.
“We also continue to work with midwives at Ealing Hospital to help support them in making this transition.”