WORKFORCE: University Hospitals Bristol Foundation Trust has warned there is a high risk low staffing levels in maternity could increase the risk of harm to mothers and babies.

A report to April’s board said staffing was below levels recommended by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Royal College of Midwives which could also lead to the unit being closed to admissions at times, “making birth choices for women more difficult to accomodate”.

It added: “This risk is compounded by an increase in overall birth rate in Bristol and fluctuations in activity and complexity of patient which results in increased workload within maternity both within this unit and across the region.”

To mitigate the risk the trust has reviewed maternity services and is working more closely with North Bristol Trust and Weston Area Health Trust to make efficient use of capacity.

An extra 5.6 whole time equivalent midwives have been recruited however the trust management executive turned down a request for capital to develop an area alongside the delivery suite where assessment of women can occur.