Agenda item

Review of Maternity Services in Maidstone Borough

An update on Maternity Services for Maidstone Borough residents since the services were moved to Pembury Hospital, Tunbridge Wells, in 2010.


Interviews with:


·  Dr Bob Bowes, Chair of West Kent Health and Wellbeing Board;

·  Councillor Susan Grigg, Maidstone Borough Council (whose suggestion it was to review Maternity services);

·  Maternity service users since the move to Pembury Hospital.


Before this item was taken, the Chairman read out a point of clarification on Maternity Services in Maidstone. The Chairman stated that publicity that had been sent out for this item, as well as the covering report for this item, which had stated that ‘Maternity Services have moved from Maidstone’. This was not the case- what the publicity and covering report should have stated was that Maternity Services at Maidstone Hospital had changed from a Consultant led service to a Midwife led service.


The Chairman read out a statement from Helen Grant, the MP for Maidstone and the Weald, concerning this item. The statement said that at the time of the consultation on the proposals local GPs wanted to keep consultant led services at Maidstone. However wider regional support for the proposals won local opposition in Maidstone. Mrs Grant asked the committee to seek a response to two questions: whether all stakeholders were happy maternity services at both Pembury and Maidstone Hospitals were adequate and safe for Maidstone mothers and babies; and, whether there had been any incidents over the past three years that may suggest a need to look at the current configuration in more detail.


Councillor Grigg was asked to speak on this topic as it had been her suggestion to conduct this review.


Cllr Grigg explained she had suggested this topic as one of her residents had had a bad experience at in Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Hospitals. Cllr Grigg explained she thought it might be a good idea to see whether there were any other reports of this happening or if it was a one off case.


Dr Bob Bowes, Chair of West Kent Health and Wellbeing Board, was invited to speak on this item. Dr Bowes made a presentation to the committee covering the following points:

·  At the time of the suggested changes to services, around 97% of local GPs had concerns about the changes;

·  However statistical analysis had shown a reduction in adverse outcomes in deliveries since the service changed;

·  Dr Bowes had asked GP colleagues who were on the Clinical Commissioning Group whether they had heard of any negative experiences from their patients. Dr Bowes explained only one GP had noted a negative experience of the service.  This was regarding a mother who had given birth in an ambulance. However it was noted the mother did not experience any adverse outcomes as a result;

·  Dr Bowes explained to the committee whilst there was concern in Maidstone regarding the need to travel to Tunbridge Wells to access a consultant led service; those in Tunbridge Wells who needed to access the midwife led service in Maidstone experienced similar travel issues;

·  Dr Bowes informed the committee that one of the assessments of NHS services, the ‘friends and family’ test, where patients were asked whether they would recommend the service to their friends and family. Dr Bowes suggested the committee asked for the results of this assessment for the maternity service from Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust.


Following the presentation from Dr Bowes, Cllr Daley spoke on this item. Cllr Daley explained to the committee that he was a member of Kent County Council, and sat on their Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Cllr Daley made a presentation to the committee covering the following points:

·  Due to concerns raised during the consultation on the changes to the maternity services, the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee had been keeping a close watch over the new service since the changes had been implemented;

·  The reason for the changes to services was that staffing numbers for the number of births at both hospitals were not enough to deliver a full range of maternity services at both sites.  Therefore the midwife led and consultant led services were split between the two hospitals;

·  Emergency transport (ambulances with blue lights) were rarely used to transport patients between sites. This was because when patients arrived at Maidstone Hospital they were given an early stage pre-assessment, and if appropriate were transferred to Pembury Hospital;

·  Approximately 30% of first time mothers, and 12% of second time mothers were referred to the unit in Pembury;

·  The unit at Maidstone was a £3 million facility, which was state of the art and delivered an excellent service;

·  The roll out of the service had been considered a success, and the model piloted in Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells had been followed elsewhere in the country where similar problems with staffing levels had been identified;

·  The County Council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee would continue to monitor the performance of maternity services.


Supporting documents: