Northern Trust releases interim review of new acute maternity services at Antrim Area Hospital

77% of women who responded to a survey about maternity services at Antrim Area Hospital in the last two months say they “were very satisfied or satisfied with the care they received”.
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The statistics were released as part of an interim report compiled following the decision to move all hospital births in the Northern Trust to Antrim Area Hospital.

The interim review of the transformation of acute maternity services in the Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCT) took place during the period from 17 July to 18 September 2023.

The new model came into effect on 17 July. In response to concerns from some elected representatives, campaign groups and service users, Northern Trust Chief Executive Jennifer Welsh offered to carry out an interim two-month review of the service change.

A 14-week public consultation around the transformation was carried out between November 2022 and March 2023, after clinicians advised that the provision of maternity services at Causeway Hospital was unsustainable due to falling birth rates, workforce challenges, and the absence of a neonatal unit. Credit NI WorldA 14-week public consultation around the transformation was carried out between November 2022 and March 2023, after clinicians advised that the provision of maternity services at Causeway Hospital was unsustainable due to falling birth rates, workforce challenges, and the absence of a neonatal unit. Credit NI World
A 14-week public consultation around the transformation was carried out between November 2022 and March 2023, after clinicians advised that the provision of maternity services at Causeway Hospital was unsustainable due to falling birth rates, workforce challenges, and the absence of a neonatal unit. Credit NI World

“The reconfiguration of our maternity services came into effect in July, and represented a significant milestone in transformation of our health and social care system at a regional level,” said NHSCT Chief Executive, Jennifer Welsh.

“Change is not always easy, and we recognise this was a very emotive issue, not just for our service users and community, but for our staff too. While it is still early days, I am really pleased at how our teams have adapted and embraced the new model. I’m also encouraged by the feedback from women in our care which has been largely very positive.

“Providing the highest standard of care to women and babies has been, and remains, our priority, and this review demonstrates that the transition to moving all hospital births to Antrim has been done safely and effectively.”

All 321 women who had their babies at Antrim Area Hospital in August were invited to provide feedback via a survey. To date, 52 responses have been received. There have been no formal complaints from service users since the new model became operational.

Ms Welsh said: “While we recognise that this is a relatively small sample survey, we are reassured by the overwhelmingly positive response from those women who have shared their feedback with us.

“77% of women who responded were very satisfied or satisfied with the care they received, while less than 10% were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.

“We have considered all the feedback in detail and, where women have not felt satisfied with the care they received, we have listened, and their experience is already helping to shape our actions around quality improvement.”

The survey asked for detailed feedback on how the service could be improved with four key themes emerging - perception of maternity ward being “very busy” or “short-staffed”; concern around delays to planned induction of labour to manage activity during busy periods; efficiency of outpatient clinics and more support for first-time mothers.

Ms Welsh added: “We are committed to providing a safe and positive experience for all women in our care, their babies and their families, so having women’s feedback is vital as it provides us with meaningful insights on areas for improvement and learning.

“I would encourage anyone who is accessing our maternity services to please consider sharing your experience – good or bad – with us, via our Care Opinion platform.”