Changes to High Weald maternity services welcomed by councillors

Crowborough Hospital
Crowborough Hospital

Councillors have welcomed a scheme which will provide a ‘more seamless’ maternity service for women.

Maternity services in High Weald Lewes Havens CCG (HWLH) will now be provided by Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust (MTW).

The services, including Crowborough Birthing Centre, were previously run by East Sussex Healthcare Trust, which runs Eastbourne DGH and Conquest Hospital.

Health bosses believe the move, confirmed on November 10, will help expectant mothers access better maternity care, with access to both community midwife-led care and obstetric – or expert care at an acute hospital.

The changes were discussed at December’s meeting of East Sussex County Council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC).

Richard Hallet, who at the time of the recommendation was chairman of East Sussex Maternity Services Liaison Committee User Group when the plans were proposed, said: “Overwhelmingly women in High Weald now look north or west for their maternity care, they don’t look south.

“Women will have in High Weald access to a whole pathway package of maternity care that allows that seamless movement between obstetric care in an acute centre and midwife care in a community setting.”

“Birth activity at Crowborough birth centre will rise significantly.”

Patients who live in the area are in between East Sussex Healthcare Trust, Maidstone and Tumbridge Wells Trust, with some patients even attending the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath.

A spokesman for High Weald Lewes Havens CCG said: “This is a positive direction of travel for the service that responds to what local people told us during the Better Beginnings consultation and provides an opportunity to streamline the service provision.”

Councillor John Ungar, said: “I’m really pleased that this has come about because I know there has been considerable public pressure for this as well.

“I’m glad to hear that service are relating to what the local public wish.

“Just as an aside, I hope that’s what happens in Eastbourne with maternity, that the Eastbourne people get what they want there.”

Cllr Ungar also questioned whether the differences in patient-note taking would cause a problem for patients.

Ashley Scarff, director of strategy at HWLH CCG said they have looked ‘long and hard’ at the record systems and working to make sure there is little difference between the two trusts.

“We have been working closely with providers,” he added.

Cllr Stanley said: “This is great news. Overall this is good news for mums to be in the north of the county.”

He said one of the problems occurring previously was the ‘under use’ of Crowborough Hospital.

“This is good news for everybody involved,” he added.