More midwives on the way

Maternity services in Norfolk are set to receive a financial boost which will see more midwives being recruited to improve the service.

Extra midwifery posts have been created following significant investment in maternity services by NHS Norfolk, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, totalling around £5.5m.

The investment, which is ongoing, will see NHS Norfolk pay the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital an extra £3.6m each year and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital an extra £1.7m per year for maternity services.

Clive Rennie, NHS Norfolk’s Assistant Director of Women and Children’s Services Commissioning, discussed the plans at the meeting of the Norfolk Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee yesterday (Thursday, October 15).

Clive said: “NHS Norfolk has already, and is continuing to, increase the amount of funding available for midwifery services in Norfolk which will help to fund more posts and recruit extra midwives to Norfolk to further improve the service that is on offer.”

Clive explained that the hospitals are paid for maternity services in two ways – the first is through a block contract, which is a based on a total funding commitment. This set fee paid by NHS Norfolk to the hospitals is rising from next year under these new investment plans, partly rising immediately to cover the rest of the current financial year.

This means that the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N) will receive an extra £677k each year as part of its block contract, which is to be used to fund additional community midwifery posts. This rise in the block contract value will directly pay for around 18 more midwives to join the team based at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

By the end of the proposed recruitment drive, the total number of midwifery posts in the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital’s maternity team (based in the community and at the hospital) will be around 182 whole time equivalents.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) will benefit from a rise of £176k each year. A further 5.7 Whole Time Equivalent midwives will also be recruited to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital midwifery team, totalling 76 Whole Time Equivalents. This arrangement of staffing is to reflect the hospitals’ respective activity levels.

However, the hospitals are also paid based on their activity levels, so the busier they are, the more they are paid – based on a payment-by-activity system. The fees paid each time someone is treated by the maternity teams are also rising.

This means that the N&N is already seeing an increase in payments for the remainder of the financial year and is expected to be paid an extra £3m from next year. The QEH is also seeing a rise in payments for the rest of this year and will receive around an extra £1.6m from next year, as part of this payment by activity payment scheme.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital are to ensure this extra payment by activity funding will boost their acute midwifery teams to meet their needs. Therefore, even more maternity posts will become available as the hospitals look to expand their teams further.

Clive commented: “This additional funding has been made available to the hospitals and will continue to be available as part of our contract in future years. It is a testament that during this current time of national economic austerity, NHS Norfolk and the maternity service providers are still working very closely together to further improve this very important provision. I commend the hard work that is already taking place at the hospitals to develop the maternity teams and further improve the service.

“We expect that by funding additional posts and bringing in more midwives, it will further improve the quality of the service mothers receive and allow them more choice, for example in terms of place of birth.”

Glynis Moore, Head of Midwifery at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said: “We have already recruited 13 more midwives who will be in post by the end of October, and another 15 are expected to be recruited between now and April 2010.

“We are aiming to have enough midwives recruited to the team to have one midwife for every 30 pregnant women using maternity services both in the community and in labour wards (see notes to editors). To achieve this ratio, we need around 35 more midwives to join the team, so the 28 new midwives we have targeted to be in place is a great start and is a massive step to further improving the service offered at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

“We are looking to recruit midwives from a range of sources and have been in contact with some midwives who have recently qualified, some who have are getting back into the service after working in other areas and some from other areas of the country. We are making a real effort to find some excellent health professionals and have them join the team in Norfolk.”

Friday 16th of October 2009 10:00:06 AM