Hospital considers unions' maternity grievance

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Trust is considering a formal grievance about maternity staffing levels lodged by UNISON and the Royal College of Midwives.

The grievance cites concerns about midwifery staffing levels and follows a national report last week by the Healthcare Commission that highlighted national shortages of midwives.

Staff at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital deliver more than 5,000 babies a year and 191 midwives are currently employed by the Trust. Currently the Trust has a midwife to birth ratio of 1:37. The lowest rate midwife to birth rate in the region is 1:35 and the highest is 1:41

A review of the Trust's midwifery services last year highlighted staffing as an area of concern, however, the Trust has concerns about a number of the review's conclusions and a Maternity Services Strategy Group is looking at how best to develop maternity services.

Six new midwives are being recruited from the University of East Anglia and will start with the Trust in August.

The formal grievance follows recent high demand on maternity services across Norfolk. This month has seen the NNUH delivery suite closed six times and no women have been sent elsehwere as a result of maternity unit occupancy levels. The unit has been closed only once due to staffing issues.

Director of Nursing, Christine Baxter, said: “July has seen our maternity team stretched by very high demand and by some staff sickness. Births can be unpredictable in terms of peaks and troughs and all Norfolk midwifery teams work together to address them accordingly.

We are already addressing the concerns and clearly we will be discussing any concerns UNISON and the RCM may have with regards to their grievance as part of a formal process.”

Monday 25th of July 2005 03:00:23 PM