Healthwatch Cumbria (HWC) was invited to meet with the Chair and Vice Chair of the National Maternity Review Team, Baroness Julia Cumberlege and Sir Cyril Chantler, respectively. The Team was in Carlisle as part of its national tour to hear how women, their families and advocates, provider organisations and the professional bodies involved in maternity care feel about the current services. The National Maternity Review is an independent review of maternity services in England which will assess current maternity care provision and consider how services should be developed to meet the changing needs of women and babies.
Sue Stevenson, HWC, attended to highlight the key messages included in a HWC briefing paper, attached, which had been provided to the Team as part of the Cumbria information pack supplied to the Chair and Vice Chair. The views expressed in the HWC paper have all been recorded in engagement sessions run by the HWC team. Sue was able to highlight the concerns and issues that local people have told us must be taken into account when considering how maternity services could be delivered in the future including;
• The challenges associated with geography, infrastructure and transport
• Questions relating to capacity, recruitment and staffing
• Service provision and choice
• Access to the full range of service, especially in emergency situations
• Financial and wider impact on families if mothers have to travel
The feedback from these events will contribute directly to the work of the Review which is expected to report by the end of the year. Sue said:
“It was reassuring to hear the view expressed by the Team that ‘services in more remote parts of the country may need different solutions’”.
Baroness Cumberlege said:
“Thank you [Healthwatch] for coming to Carlisle to tell us how people in Cumbria experience services. It was good for Sir Cyril and I to be informed with the detail and fortunate that we could have the conversation, in part, with Tony Faulkner. Certainly rurality has its challenges and it is only by visiting the area that we could get a real feel for the difficulties faced by services including recruitment”.