Northern Trust seeks approval to consult on Maternity Services

The Northern Health and Social Care Trust has confirmed that it plans to seek approval from the Trust Board at its meeting on Thursday (November 24) to go to out to public consultation on options for the future provision of acute maternity services.

A Trust spokesperson said: “The current configuration of maternity services in the Northern Trust is a fragile and vulnerable service model that is unsustainable. Available consultant obstetrics and midwifery resources are spread too thinly across the Antrim and Causeway sites and we are seeing a year-on-year decrease in birth numbers in the Causeway Coast and Glens area.

“We urgently need to provide a model for maternity services that addresses current challenges, including issues to do with staffing and recruitment and neonatal care.

“There are clinically deliverable options for providing a more sustainable and safe model and we have always stressed that we would try to make no permanent changes without full public consultation. That remains our preference and we plan to seek approval from Trust Board to immediately commence a 14-week public consultation process.

There is a maternity unit in both Antrim Area Hospital and Causeway Hospital, Coleraine.

“Our aim will be to ensure that people fully understand the need for change, the various options and their implications and that they have a real and meaningful chance to fully explore those options and have their say.”

There is a maternity unit in both Antrim Area Hospital and Causeway Hospital, Coleraine. There is also a team of community midwives who provide a full range of midwifery care to women who live within the Northern Trust.

In a statement, the Department of Health said: “The Department of Health has been advised by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust of its planned public consultation on the future of acute maternity services in its area.

"The Trust has also kept the Department informed on the fragility of the current configuration of services.

"The Department fully understands the sensitivities and anxieties of individuals and communities that potential changes to services can create, and therefore requires Trusts to carry out extensive consultation prior to any planned change. Recommendations and proposals from the consultation will come to the Department for assessment. Central criteria in this assessment will be how best to provide safe and sustainable care that meets the needs of the community.

"Any permanent changes to services will require Ministerial/Departmental approval.”

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