A NEW midwife-led maternity unit is to be set up at Worcestershire Royal Hospital following a £500,000 grant from the Department of Health.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust – the organisation running the Royal as well as Kidderminster Hospital and Redditch’s Alexandra Hospital – was awarded the funding this week.

The trust’s chief executive Penny Venables said the cash would be used to set up a new midwife-led unit at the hospital in order to give new mothers a choice of care.

“Two years ago the department of health asked all organisations to put in business cases to deliver and develop midwife-led care,” she said.

“We were turned down then but when the department asked for more submissions we re-submitted the same bid and this time they gave it to us.

“The whole push is to normalise deliveries, reducing rates of things like caesarean to being carried out through choice rather than need.

“It will give the mums of south Worcestershire some choice.”

She added the unit would be housed in an existing part of the hospital and no building work would need to be carried out.

“We are one of the few areas in the country not to have a midwife-led unit,” she said.

“Worcester University want people to choose to come to go there but they can’t offer them the same experience they can get elsewhere. This will allow us to provide that and we’ll be able to have it located next to an existing unit so if anything goes wrong we can just wheel them through the door where an obstetrician can deal with them.”

She said the next stage was to establish how many people would be in favour of setting up such a unit.

“It will be important to see how many people are in favour,” she said.

“It might be that everyone goes ‘no thanks, I’ll go to an obscuration’.

“We’ve only just got the letter saying we’ve got the money – we’re now at the planning stage.”

A long-awaited review of hospital services in Worcestershire which was presented last month recommended consultant-led maternity services should be centralised at Worcestershire Royal Hospital while a stand-along midwifery centre is set up in the north of the county.

Although concerns had been raised that the plans would lead to the closure of the A&E department at the Alexandra Hospital, the independent review did not recommend this idea should be followed, saying instead the most serious emergency cases should be centralised in Worcester.

The review also recommended paediatric inpatient services should be centralised in Worcester and that public transport links between the three hospitals should be reviewed.

The financial elements of the plans are currently being reviewed and are expected to be presented in April.