• Concerns over low birth rate and diverts at the Crowborough Birthing Centre
  • No date agreed for when Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells will take over the service

STRUCTURE: Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust will take over a maternity unit previously run by East Sussex Healthcare Trust.

The Crowborough Birthing Centre was part of a controversial maternity and paediatric reconfiguration in East Sussex last year, which saw consultant led maternity services centralised at Conquest Hospital in Hastings and a midwife led unit kept at Crowborough.

East Sussex Hospital Trust

Crowborough Memoral Hospital

High Weald Lewes Havens CCG worked with the trust to try to improve the maternity unit’s performance

A joint statement from High Weald Lewes Havens Clinical Commissioning Group, East Sussex, and Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells said the decision had been taken to “help provide a more seamless maternity service for women in that area”.

Last year the local council’s health and overview scrutiny committee said maternity care in the area required “urgent review”.

The CCG worked with East Sussex over the past year to try and make improvements, but had concerns about a reduction in births at the unit and several diverts. Births have reduced at the unit, from 246 in 2012 to 176 in 2014.

Between December 2014 and July 2015 the unit was closed or diversions were put in place 11 times because of a staff shortage.

East Sussex Healthcare Trust was placed in special measures in September after two critical Care Quality Commission inspections.

There is no date yet for when the service will be transferred to Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells.

The joint statement said: “As part of an ongoing commitment to improving local maternity services, started under the Better Beginnings programme in 2013-14, High Weald Lewes Havens CCG, East Sussex Healthcare Trust and Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust have agreed in principle that the management of the maternity services provided within the High Weald area, including Crowborough Birthing Centre, should move to [Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells] to help provide a more seamless maternity service for women in that area.

“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. The details around this transfer still need to be finalised and agreed.”