The Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust (RD&E) has extended the suspension of birth services at Honiton and Okehampton maternity units until mid-September 2018.The Trust took the decision last year to temporarily suspend births and subsequent in-patient stays at Okehampton and Honiton maternity units. This step was taken to maintain patient safety due to a combination of factors affecting the stability of the services at these sites and the other units it operates in Tiverton and Exeter.
Zita Martinez, Head of Midwifery at the RD&E, said: “We are sorry for this continued suspension in services. Although we have successfully recruited to a number of our midwifery vacancies, we are still managing a high level of staff absence, including maternity leave. At the same time, the positively received implementation of national policy in the Better Births and Saving Babies’ Lives guidance has meant that the complexity and acuity of women and babies we are caring for has significantly increased. This means that our main maternity unit in Exeter is experiencing greater levels of demand on the specialist care that we provide.
“In the context of increasing complexity, re-opening Okehampton and Honiton maternity units for births and in-patient stays would result in the Trust stretching our workforce too far and potentially compromising safety in our other delivery units.”
The Trust has agreed with NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group to extend the suspension of births and subsequent in-patient stays at Okehampton and Honiton until mid-September 2018 in order to ensure the safety of services across a wider geographical footprint and therefore, for more women and babies. All antenatal and post-natal appointments, support clinics and home births will continue as normal in both communities.