STRUCTURE: University Hospital Southampton Foundation Trust has expressed concerns that service changes at a neighbouring trust will put more pressure on its maternity services.

A report presented to the trust board this week says there is potential for up to 1,500 more “higher risk” births a year to be delivered at Southampton if proposals by Hampshire Hospitals FT to move obstetric services from Winchester Hospital to a new site go ahead.

Hampshire Hospitals proposes to move obstetric services to a site north of Winchester. The report says this “will almost certainly have ramifications” for Southampton, in the south of the county.

Approximately 6,000 women gave birth using the Southampton trust’s maternity care last year.

Hampshire Hospitals is also considering plans to make Winchester Hospital’s maternity service a midwifery led service. The trust is to consult on its proposals in the autumn.

Southampton’s annual maternity services report said: “Within the Hampshire region significant service change is planned, especially in north Hampshire between Winchester and Basingstoke hospitals.

“This is likely to produce further changes to the number of women who wish to [give] birth in Southampton, and this will need future careful planning and consideration.

“One of the considerations within the consultation is that Winchester maternity service becomes a midwifery led service within the Winchester Hospital site and that obstetric services would move to a newly established site north of Winchester.

“This will almost certainly have ramifications for Southampton maternity services.”

These are listed in the report as:

  • the potential for 1,000-1,500 “higher risk” additional births to migrate to Southampton;
  • a “drift” of women from southern areas of Hampshire to opt to have midwifery led births in Winchester; and
  • affecting capacity at Princess Anne Hospital, run by Southampton.

The document also says that last year 54 women were transferred from Southampton to another maternity service provider to give birth due to a lack of capacity in its neonatal service.

Hampshire Hospitals chief executive Mary Edwards said: “Our clinical strategy, designed by our doctors, nurses and other clinical staff, is to deliver local services where possible and central services where it is necessary for the safety of patients. 

“We have been discussing our proposal to build a new critical treatment hospital in the centre of the populations we serve to deliver 24/7 consultant led care with our local community, GPs, clinical commissioners and other healthcare partners since our trust was created in 2012. 

“As part of this clinical strategy, our midwives and obstetricians have developed a proposal for our future midwifery services. 

“This proposal includes maternity centres offering midwifery led births on the Basingstoke, Winchester and Andover sites, and a brand new, state of the art, large obstetric unit and homely midwifery unit – known as an alongside midwifery unit.”

She added that a consultation will take place later this year, led by West Hampshire and North Hampshire clinical commissioning groups, and all feedback will be considered before final decisions are made.