Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group has agreed a set of recommendations that will maintain the health and wellbeing of mums-to-be during the current coronavirus outbreak.

The changes, which were agreed at an extraordinary public meeting on Thursday 30 April, will ensure families are kept safe at this current time, and that staff are able to use their skills in the right places to support the changing needs and wishes of women and families, such as the recent increase in women choosing to have their baby at home.

Under the new proposals, some of the previously-agreed changes to maternity services, which had been approved following an extensive public consultation throughout 2018 and 2019, will be temporarily amended or suspended.

The birthing unit at Trowbridge Freestanding Midwifery Unit (FMU) will now remain open until Monday 1 June, instead of closing at the beginning of May, which had been agreed by the CCG’s Governing Body in January.  This will allow more time for local families and staff to prepare for the closure, as ongoing preparatory work had to be paused because of coronavirus.

Postnatal beds at Chippenham Birthing Centre (FMU) will close on Monday 4 May to reduce the time spent by families in hospital during the pandemic. Chippenham had been expected to remain open until the spring of 2021.

Essential postnatal support will still be available to mums and families through online video calls or, where required, face-to-face appointments. Elsewhere, Chippenham FMU will adopt an overnight open-on-demand system. This means the units will no longer be fully staffed throughout the night and will instead only open when midwives are needed to support a birth, which is the model currently used at the neighbouring birthing centre in Trowbridge.

Staff previously based at the centres overnight will be redeployed to support midwifery colleagues to deliver maternity services that meet the changing needs and wishes of women at this time.

The CCG will monitor the impact of the changes to the postnatal beds at Chippenham, as well as the new overnight staffing arrangements at Chippenham, over the coming weeks and a summary report will be presented to the Governing Body at its meeting in July. Any families who are concerned about coronavirus, or the impact that these changes may have on their birthing plans, are encouraged to speak to their midwife as soon as possible.

Papers from the Governing Body meeting are available to read online at www.bswccg.nhs.uk