An unassuming one-story building which has seen many birthdays and lots of magic, Stroud Maternity was opened in 1953, and has been the centre of Stroud family life ever since; countless babies and a few celebs to boot - cricketer Jack Russell was born there as well as writer Laurie Lee's only child and writers Sue Limb and Katie Fforde's children.
The Unit fought a well publicised and hugely supported campaign against closure in 1998, with pushchair marches, placards and banners – and won. Back then, the Health Authority asked for numbers of births to be raised – and the mums and dads of Gloucestershire responded with gusto, so much so that our birth rate has increased year on year ever since, so thank you !
For more history and recollections, buy Stroud’s Birthplace, compiled by Diane Harris & Tracy Spiers, in local shops and available from the Maternity unit, £7.00, all profits to Stroud Maternity.
WHAT WE DO NOW
Stroud Maternity is a Midwife-led Unit – staffed and run by midwives, Health Care Assistants and support staff. GP’s do provide some post-natal medical support, but are no longer on hand for care in labour and and birth. Emergency care is provided by the ambulance and paramedic service, for transfer to the consultant maternity units in Gloucester and Cheltenham.
Stroud Maternity is open for birth to all women with a low-risk pregnancy – those who are fit and healthy, with no medical conditions – and whose pregnancy has been uncomplicated. There are no geographical boundaries, and women come from far and wide – one woman even travelled from the Orkney Isles, had her baby and returned home several days later ! Since the sad closure of a neighbouring midwife-led unit in Malmesbury last year, many women from the Cirencester area are now using Stroud Maternity for birth. Our birthrate is rising – a record 365 births last year, including 49 homebirths. Around 44% of those were waterbirths, and around 30% of women had their own midwife as the main carer in labour.
We provide postnatal care to all women who give birth here, and some 350 women who give birth in a nearby consultant unit – there is no limit on length of stay, and many come for rest, respite, feeding support and TLC – our milky drink and biscuit at bedtime is legendary ! Our breastfeeding rate is also higher than the national average.
The Unit is staffed by community midwives, and core midwives doing shifts, with community midwives providing ante-natal in GP surgeries, and postnatal care at home. We also provide:
* 24-hour access to all pregnant women in the area, around 2,000 ‘walk-in ante-natal this year – reassurance, general check-ups, presentation scans, blood clinics
* 24-hour advice line for all women in the Stroud and Forest of Dean areas – around 5,000 advice calls per year
* Consultant clinics for those women who have medical problems or high-risk pregnancies
* Ante-natal classes, TENS machine hire, waterpool hire and hiring of breastpumps.
Important Facts about Stroud Maternity Hospital
• Cotswold and Vale PCT say they will save £400k by closing Stroud Maternity Unit and that the Hospital Trust can absorb the extra work at no extra cost.
• 85% of costs go on staff salaries – this will not be reduced by closing the unit to deliveries and postnatal stays.
• A projected increase in home births as a direct result of closure will mean that more midwives will need to be employed.
• Using the ‘Payment by Result’ formula which is recommended for Maternity Services by the Government, Stroud Maternity is viable and cost effective.
• Nothing will be saved on the building overheads as the building will continue to be used as a base for Community midwives.
• Nothing will be saved on CNST as home births will continue and increase.
• There is no evidence that because midwife-led units are small they must have high unit costs.
Cotswold Vale PCT have not given any written evidence of their projected savings from closing Stroud Maternity
Stroud Maternity is a viable unit
• 314 births last year, 11% increase on the previous year
• 43 home births attended by Stroud Midwives, 40% increase on last year
• 17 women came from out of the area to give birth at Stroud Maternity because of its reputation
• 83 women had a water birth – 26% of births are in water
• 121 women used the pool for labour
All midwives at Stroud are experienced in water birth. Water birth lowers the need for pain relief and therefore increases normal birth rates
• 335 women came from other hospitals for post-natal care at Stroud Maternity
• 83% of women at Stroud Maternity breastfed while in hospital and 74% were still breastfeeding on discharge. National average is 61% of women start breastfeeding
Breastfeeding rates will fall dramatically if postnatal stays are reduced to 24 hours only in hospital. Lower breastfeeding rates will mean more babies will need medical care by GP’s and re-admission to hospitals
• 1956 pregnant women came to the unit to be checked over by the midwives – an increase of 22% from the previous year.
Women value having access to local services – they should not have to travel to Gloucester. Hard to reach groups and vulnerable women will not access care in Gloucester.
Government Policy supports midwife-led care in stand-alone birth centres
• Government Policy states that women should have choice over where they wish to give birth
• Evidence shows that giving birth in midwife-led, stand-alone units is safe and increases the chances of having a normal birth.
• The National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services (DH 2004) Section 11 states:
‘maternity services should be designed, reviewed and improved through a programme of consultation with users… the full range of choices of types of birth, antenatal and postnatal care, and birth environment should be offered… local options for midwife-led care will include midwife led units in the community…’
Closing Stroud Maternity goes directly against government policies.
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