Changes to maternity services in Scotland will see pregnant women give birth at home or in ‘community hubs’ run by midwives.
The pilot scheme in Scotland, initially trialled across five health boards starting in 2018, will be a midwife-led model of care and will ensure fewer healthy women give birth to their babies in hospital wards.
Hospital births would still be an option for mothers at risk of complications, such as women who may require a Caesarean section.
The scheme is the result of the Best Start review, a five-year plan for maternity care in Scotland, which recommended that ‘NHS Boards should redesign maternity services with a focus on local care, built around the concept of multidisciplinary community “hubs”, with the majority of women being offered routine care and services through these hubs.’
Revealing the plans to The Herald, Scottish Health Secretary Shona Robinson explained that the hubs could replace hospital care for a large number of pregnant women, and will be staffed by midwives, obstetricians and other health professionals.
She said: ‘The community hub model will see most midwives working in the community, but there will always be women who require to be in hospital during their pregnancy or after birth, and therefore maternity wards will remain’.
Speaking to The Herald, Mary Ross-Davie, director for Scotland of the Royal College of Midwives, claimed that midwife-led units were the best option and led to fewer medical interventions.
She said: ‘We have midwives who have very good training and education, and can pick up on problems as they emerge and respond to them.
‘Sometimes if someone is in labour you get early warning signs that things aren’t quite going to plan, and in that case the decision would be made to transfer the patient to a consultant-led unit.’
The pilot scheme will start at NHS Forth Valley, Highland, Lanarkshire, Lothian and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (Clyde area only) next year.