STRUCTURE: Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust has launched a consultation on the future of maternity services in its area.

Two of the three options on offer propose stopping births at the Andover Birth Centre.

A press release by the trust says the inpatient service at the centre has been “underused for many years”, with only four babies being born there a week.

Recruitment difficulties and high absence levels have led to the inpatient service being suspended, although it remains open for ante natal and post natal clinics.

The three options proposed are:

  1. for all births to happen at the trust’s Royal Hampshire County Hospital, and for the Andover centre to remain closed to inpatients;
  2. as option one with an additional home-centred “domino” service at the Royal Hampshire;
  3. as option one with domino services at both the Royal Hampshire and the Andover facility.

Under the “domino” model – which stands for domiciliary in and out – a community midwife works with the mother by phone or at home, before meeting them at their chosen birthing unit. The mother is then discharged within six hours of birth and supported at home.

The consultation will run from 1 September to 31 October.